First blog post: Spring Break Project

Okay, so the first question I think I should answer is this:  Why start a book blog?

Good question, imaginary readers.  I guess I wanted to start one so that I can talk about books.  Seems simple, right?  But it’s not.  You see, I read a lot (How vague!  How general!), and when I read a book I really like, or sometimes don’t like, I want someone with whom I can discuss my thoughts about the BOOK I WISH I COULD GO BACK IN TIME AND READ FOR THE FIRST TIME AGAIN BECAUSE IT WAS THAT GOOD or the BOOK I WISH HAD AN UGLIER COVER SO I WOULD HAVE NEVER PICKED IT UP.  Currently, however, I have few real life friends to discuss these things.  They have lives, and, I’m sure this is surprising, I have a life as well.  When I get together with my friends, we generally have life-updating discussions, where we bash husbands, complain about children, or reminiscence about our shared past. Or, you know, drink.  Books are a side note, at best, and a nonissue, at worst. So, this is why I’m starting a blog.  I want to vent.  I want to give my opinion.  And, my imaginary friends, I want to know that there are others out there who like books as much as I do.  Even if you aren’t real-person real, just internet real.

So there it is, my reasoning for starting this blog.  Maybe I’ll grow bored with this game in a few weeks.  That’s my usual time span, anyway.  However, here’s to hoping for success and continuance with this endeavor, as unlikely as it may be.

For my first book, I want to vent about something that has upset me.  Is anyone else particularly peeved that The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski isn’t out during Spring Break? No, instead, it’s out a week after, which means I’ll be up all night Tuesday reading this book, when I should be snoozing in preparation of teaching 150 kids with crazy amounts of senioritis, which they think is an actual disease!  (They often cite it as the reason for being absent!  Senior Quote:  “I just couldn’t deal!”)

Anyway, I’m just saying that I wanted to read this book over break, and I’m totally bummed that I can’t and will, subsequently, be super tired and short-tempered when I go to work the next Wednesday.

So, what is my book of choice for this week?  I’ve decided on two–The Lake House by Kate Morton and An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir.  I’ve heard Ember was awesome from the highest of sources–one being the checkout guy at the bookstore where I bought it who said, “The paperback book you bought was AH-MAAAAZING!”  To be fair, he couldn’t remember the name because it was already in the bag.

The other book, The Lake House, is by a favorite author of mine, Kate Morton.  Really, if you’ve read one Kate Morton book, you know the plot outline pretty well.  Same book, just a different mystery.  Past indiscretions lead to crime and mystery.  Six, seven or so decades later, a modern-day character takes up the mystery, researching the past events and using some impressive sleuth skills to get to the bottom of the events, obviously bringing something to the table that long-gone players didn’t have.  Usually, the character doing the research, including interviewing the once-upon-a-time leading characters who were well enmeshed in the drama and were usually children when the drama took place, is somehow related to the mystery, sometimes knowing it and sometimes not.

Here are some things that you’ll love from The Lake House:

  1. Morton can paint an idyllic setting.  A beautiful lake house with a delightful garden and woods hiding it from view contrasts with nefarious secrets hidden in its depths. In the modern times, it has become a picturesque, dilapidated home seemingly stuck in time with even a teacup left on one of the tables amidst the layers of dust and ruin. Seriously, Morton and her settings are awesome, but The Lake House seems even more lovely and lonely than others and an obvious analogy for some of the characters themselves.
  2. The mystery is entertaining.  I really get entangled in the mystery in her books, especially The Lake House. I want to know how it’s all going to end. I want to see if I’m right when I start making the connections with the characters. And the mystery makes sense. In this particular book, you can absolutely tell why no one ever figured out the mystery, mainly because they weren’t looking.  Not because they wanted to forget, but because they were too close and the pain surrounding the event was too much for them to decipher the truth. The modern character, in this case Detective Constable Sadie Sparrow, really adds a distance and logic that the past characters just can’t match. Plus, the older characters were children during the episode, so their memory is staunched by their youth and gaps in their childish knowledge. (I seriously thought of Atonement by Ian McEwan for a while, though none of these characters from the past are quite as destructive as Briony.)
  3. The characters are well-developed.  One thing that can really make a novel fail is a poorly drawn character. This book is not one of those. The many–and I do mean many–characters are developed in a believable way, from the main characters of Sadie, Eleanor, and Alice to the minor characters like Howard and Constance. Plus, their motivations are reasonable. Only once have I thought, Really?, (Have I mentioned I like to read the end before I get there once I start hypothesizing on the answer to the mystery?), but as I’m reading, that one choice is making more sense. More importantly, I care what happens to these characters, not just Sadie but all of the others as well.

Seriously, if you’re looking for a delightfully engaging read during spring break (do other adults get this break?), pick up The Lake House by Kate Morton. This is not my first book of hers, but this one is highly addictive. And it’s always fun to see if you can figure out the mystery before the characters. (As I’ve said, I usually I cheat because I have to know if I’m right!  It’s a sickness!)  Plus, her books, The Lake House in particular, are highly entertaining and never disappoint, and I think that might be what spring break should be about, don’t you, imaginary ones?

That’s all for now, my internet friends. Next up, I’ll share my thoughts about An Ember in the Ashes. Hope you have happy imaginary adventures of your own this spring break!

Ta-ta,

HMichaele

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