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Friday, June 01, 2018

Jar of Hearts and The Color of Bee Larkham's Murder

Jar of Hearts is a compelling tale of bad decisions.  When she was sixteen, Georgina (Geo) Shaw falls in love with Calvin James, an older man at twenty-one.  Angela Wong, Geo's best friend, disappears without a trace.  Kaiser Brody, the third in the group of best friends, later becomes a detective determined to catch a serial killer.

from the description:   This is the story of three best friends: one who was murdered, one who went to prison, and one who's been searching for the truth all these years.

Jar of Hearts is an edgy, suspenseful tale that has some grim elements.   While wanting to sympathize with Geo, it is sometimes difficult to do.  Geo is, however, brutally honest with herself.  While she keeps some things secret, she accepts and admits her role in Angela's death.  

The book follows Geo in the past and in the present, and the  events on the night in question are revealed a little at a time.  In the present, a new nightmare is about to begin.

The conclusion bothered me a bit and seemed a bit rushed, but this is an intense book that 
will keep you turning the pages, getting involved with the characters and their situations, and puzzling through your own opinions.

Read in April; blog review scheduled for May 29.

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press

Suspense/Crime.  June 12, 2018.  Print length:  320 pages.

The Color of Bee Larkham's Murder features thirteen-year-old Jasper Wishart who is autistic, suffers from prosopagnosia (face blindess), and is a synesthete.   His autism and face blindness (he can't recognize faces and must depend on voices and clothing to identify even his own father) are definite drawbacks, but Jasper thinks of his synesthesia as a wonderful gift.  

Sounds are colors, and Jasper delights in the myriad colors of voices, music, even memories--his mother is cobalt blue.

What I liked:  Jasper.  It is difficult to truly imagine some of his autistic and facial blindness difficulties.  Although his conditions are natural for Jasper, they seem remarkably frightening for the reader.  Imagine only being able to recognize your father and distinguish him from others by the sound of his voice (and for Jasper, the color of his father's voice--a muddy brown) and his clothing.  All of the normal relationships in life would be so slippery!  

I enjoyed Jasper's curious approach to life and his charming character, but Harris also managed to make me imagine the frustrations of living with a bright child with so many complications.  Jasper's father does the best he can for his child, but he is also a single parent who must dress the same way each day to help his son recognize him.

Bee Larkham, the beautiful and unconventional new neighbor, captures the imagination of the entire neighborhood, but not always in a positive way.  She provides the impetus for some unpleasant situations.

Not so much:  The overuse of the color trope can get a little irritating.  There are also places where things drag; the story might be better served if it was a little shorter and tighter.

Reminiscent of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon in the use of an autistic main character.  Sarah Harris has written a book that makes you curious about autism and synesthesia, but you still wonder about how the accuracy/realism of some of the details.

I enjoyed The Color of Bee Larkham's Murder and look forward to what Harris does next book.

Read in March; blog review scheduled for May 29.

NetGalley/Touchstone

Mystery/Coming of Age.  June 12, 2018.  Print length:  368 pages.

15 comments:

  1. I'm adding these two books to GR! I like how they sound! Especially The Color of Bee Larkham's Murder because of the character with autism ! Glad to hear you enjoyed it despite the overuse of the trope

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    1. The Color of Bee Larkham's Murder never lost my interest. :) There are beautiful parts even when you worry about Jasper.

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  2. I'm planning on trying both of these books. Yours is the first review I've read of the Bee Larkham book. I did notice the autism and synesthesia storyline when I first read about it. Very, very interesting. I have read at least one other review of The Jar of Hearts. That person really, really liked the book. Don't think you were quite as enthused, but it still sounds like you enjoyed it enough.

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    1. Synesthesia is a fascinating condition, and I've read several novels that have used the topic, but this is a murder mystery with the tender aspect of a child who has difficulties we can't imagine and still shines.

      I do think The Jar of Hearts is good; it certainly kept me engrossed. There were a few elements that bothered me in spite of everything, but you won't want to put it down. :)

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  3. Two more books to keep in mind this summer, although I do hate when an author rushes an ending. Jasper sounds like an awesome character.

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    1. Jasper is awesome! The rushed ending of Jar of Hearts was a let down for me, but the rest of the book kept me engrossed.

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  4. I thought Jar of Hearts was a romance for some reason! A serial killer/murder mystery story is a little more my speed.

    The concept of synesthesia is so interesting. I would be curious to read how an author incorporates that in to a novel.

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    1. :) I don't read romance, but the cover of Jar of Hearts could certainly prompt that response.
      Synesthesia is fascinating, but it was the face blindness that really got to me in The Color of Bee Larkham's Murder that affected me the most. That is a condition that would be so debilitating.

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  5. The Colour of Bee Larkham's murder was one of the more unique premises I'd ever read, and I agree, there were bits that dragged. Jar of hearts is one that has me curious for awhile. I like Geo, but I'm sad to hear about the conclusion.

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    1. Both books were interesting psychological examination, but of such different characters! I will be looking for more from both authors. :)

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  6. Jar of Hearts is on my TBR pile. I am glad to hear it was so engrossing, even if the ending wasn't quite up to par and felt rushed. I am not familiar with Sarah Harris's book, but it does sound good. I will have to check it out.

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    1. Jar of Hearts has an interesting concept, and although the ending felt rushed to me, this is a compelling, character-driven novel!

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  7. Of course I'm interested in Jar of Hearts as it's a thriller but I'm super curious about the Harris novel. I hadn't heard of face blindness so I'd like to see how that is dealt with in the novel!

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    1. :) I think you'd enjoy both books, Iliana.

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  8. Jar of Hearts definitely intrigues me and I've also read from some reviews that the conclusion seemed a bit rushed. That said, I still want to read it. :)

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