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Tuesday, June 03, 2014

A Dangerous Age by EllenGilchrist and The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O'Brien

Darn, I have a ton of books to review, mostly just average reads.  But I've read two recently that really connected:

A Dangerous Age by Ellen Gilchrist.  I loved it, but I've just looked over some reviews, and it appears that I'm in the minority.  In a way, it isn't too strange, since the reviewers often mention the Rhoda books.  They loved them, and I didn't feel strongly about the ones I read.  Perhaps, then, it is typical that I like the book most Gilchrist fans don't like, but it is kind of disappointing that others didn't enjoy the book as much as I did.

The story is told from multiple viewpoints of the Hand family cousins, although most sections eventually settle on Olivia deHaviland Hand. The story begins on Sept. 11, 2001 and continues through 2005.  The style is a little choppy, sentences are very short, and perspectives change, but somehow, I found myself entangled with these lives.  

What I loved:  the closeness of the cousins, the way each of them dealt with Sept. 11 and the repercussions of the Iraq war, the struggle Olivia, a newspaper editor, has with the constant barrage of bad news, Olivia's grandparents, oh, hell, just about everything concerning Olivia.

Some of the language that cropped up occasionally felt jarring and somehow out of place, but most of the book is so sensitive, so personal, so gently drawn.   Without overtly playing on the reader's emotions, the book covers the ramifications of 9/11, the resulting war in Iraq and its effects on both the military and civilians, the changes in public attitudes about the war, and the role of newspapers.  There was a lot to think about, and I really loved the book.

This was an ARC from Algonquin books.  It is a re-release; originally published in 2008.



The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O'Brien.  Truthfully, I suspected that this would not be very good, but I requested it from NetGalley anyway, and I'm so glad I did.  I started it last night, finished this morning, first thing.  I don't usually begin reading early, but I almost couldn't wait to get my cup of coffee.

What surprised and intrigued me is the way the author took a fantastic premise and drew me in so completely with the tale that I was wholly invested. That doesn't happen all that often--usually, I'm carrying a subconscious criticism in my head even when I'm enjoying a book.   Once I started Vault, I was hooked on both plot and characters, and my internal critic stayed silent and let me believe in the author's world.

My only criticism is that I didn't realize it was part of a series until the cliffhanger conclusion!  Not only did I not want the book to end, but certainly not leaving me wanting more!

I'll do a better review closer to the publication date, but I wanted to just share a bit now.

(from NetGalley; to be released in Sept.)

4 comments:

Melody said...

The Vault of Dreamers sounds good! Will have to look out for it!

jenclair said...

Melody - It is YA and science fiction. My two recent favorite books couldn't be more different!

Literary Feline said...

The Gilchrist book sounds really good, so I am glad you liked it so much. I think I might like it too from your description of it. I haven't read anything else by the author.

The Vault of Dreamers sounds good too! I know what you mean about subconscious criticism. I have a voice like that in my head too.

jenclair said...

Both were really good, but a strange juxtaposition.

I'm never sure how or why some authors can keep that internal critic quiet, but I love it when it happens!