Showing posts with label Suspense. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Suspense. Show all posts

Don't Let Go by Harlan Coben

Don't Let Go by Harlan Coben

4.2  ·  Rating details ·  12,714 Ratings  ·  799 Reviews
Download or read online for free Don't Let Go by Harlan Coben
Don't Let Go by Harlan Coben
With unmatched suspense and emotional insight, Harlan Coben explores the big secrets and little lies that can destroy a relationship, a family, and even a town in this powerful new thriller.

Suburban New Jersey Detective Napoleon “Nap” Dumas hasn't been the same since senior year of high school, when his twin brother Leo and Leo’s girlfriend Diana were found dead on the railroad tracks—and Maura, the girl Nap considered the love of his life, broke up with him and disappeared without explanation. For fifteen years, Nap has been searching, both for Maura and for the real reason behind his brother's death. And now, it looks as though he may finally find what he's been looking for.

When Maura's fingerprints turn up in the rental car of a suspected murderer, Nap embarks on a quest for answers that only leads to more questions—about the woman he loved, about the childhood friends he thought he knew, about the abandoned military base near where he grew up, and mostly about Leo and Diana—whose deaths are darker and far more sinister than Nap ever dared imagine.

“Daisy wore a clingy black dress with a neckline so deep it could tutor philosophy.”

“My great-grandfather, Dad often told us, saved his best wines for special occasions. He was killed when the Nazis invaded Paris. The Nazis ended up drinking his wine. Lesson: you never wait. When I was growing up, we used only the good plates. We used the best linens. We drank out of Waterford crystal. When my father died, his wine cellar was nearly empty.”





Reviews


Ah yes, the ever faithful Coben novel. The comfort and confidence I feel in his work knows no bounds; whether I am on a string of enjoyable reads or stuck in a month long slump, his books are always devoured and relished. You could say I shove his books into the hands of strangers on a regular basis that I regularly recommend his novels in the most appropriate fashion, and with good reason- they are compulsive thrillers filled with dry humor and wit that anyone can relate to. As one of my top 3 favorite authors of all time, I think it's safe to say my review cannot be wholly unbiased, but if you'll stick with me I'm going to try and give you impartial facts as to why you may love this book too.

1- Coben based this book on true events that happened in his hometown. That's right, this story may be his most believable and realistic to date, if solely for the fact that it was inspired by two things that had taken place where he lives. I'm not going to tell you about it so that you can buy the book and read it for yourself, but it's all explained right in the prologue and naturally sets the tone for the entire read.

2- This book is downright hilarious. Ok, I know that sounds weird for a thriller that involves grisly murders and disturbing content to be funny, but you just have to read it to see what I mean. Anyone who has been a longtime fan of Coben is aware of his sense of dry humor and ability to infuse even the most tense situations with comic relief. This particular standalone was reminiscent of the same air of intelligent banter found in the author's Myron Bolitar series, which is a HUGE plus for me as it's one of my favorite series of all time. <--- Check out other reviews if you don't believe me; they'll agree on the MB reference as well.

3. The story isn't rigid and predictable. You know how sometimes you can read a string of thrillers in a row and wonder where one starts and the next ends because they all appear the same? Not so here; Coben has whipped up heaping piles of intrigue and suspense for sure, but also added in a dash of humor and romance for good measure. I love how I don't feel confined to thinking I'm in a single genre when I read these books; when I dive in it just feels like natural writing and remains uplifting no matter how dark the story turns.

These are just a few reasons why I found Don't Let Go to be such an excellent read; if you have enjoyed the author's previous novels you'll likely find this one just as refreshing and exciting as his past books. Highly recommended for those who enjoy a multitude of gut busters (those are my laughs when I snort at the same time) along with their serious stories. I'm once again in my dry spell of waiting for the next book to be written and published, but in the meantime I'll reminisce over all the feels of DLG. I can't wait to see what the majority thinks of this book!
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One of my all-time favorite authors has done it again! An absolutely superb, stand-alone thriller to add to his (and my) collection.

Nap is a police detective who has never fully recovered from the death of his twin brother Leo. Along with his girlfriend Diane, Leo died tragically when the couple were just teenagers.

Unbelievably, that same night, Nap lost his girlfriend Maura…only she went missing, and was never heard from again. 15 years later he is still the walking-wounded. Emotionally devastated and left to ponder “what if?” He also carries on a constant inner-dialogue with his deceased brother. A very unique and clever angle that took me a bit to get used to, but once I warmed up to it I completely enjoyed his inner conversations.

With a knock on the door, news comes that his long lost girlfriend Maura may have resurfaced. Only problem…it’s tied to the death of another childhood friend. Could this be related to why Leo died mysteriously so many years ago? As Nap starts digging into the past, there are others out there determined to keep the secrets of the past buried forever.

Absolutely outstanding! Loved everything about this book from start to finish! As good as his Myron Bolitar series, this one does not disappoint! There is even a cameo appearance! Yeah! Would highly recommend to all Harlan Coben fans!
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5 Brilliant Shining Stars.

"Don't Let Go" is the Best Standalone Harlan Coben has EVER written.  Hands Down.

Detective Napoleon Dumas, known as “Nap” lives and works in a small New Jersey town.  He has been searching for answers his whole life.  Or at least for the last fifteen years -since his senior year of high school to be exact.  That is when Nap lost his twin brother Leo.  When Leo and his girlfriend Diana were found dead – on the railroad tracks in their hometown.  No one ever determined the exact cause of death.  At that exact same time, Nap’s high school girlfriend Maura disappeared.  Vanished, almost into thin air as if she never existed.  It tore him apart, losing all three of them at once.  He has never been the same.

Now, fifteen years later, Nap is informed that Maura’s finger prints are found at the scene of a crime in a neighboring town (involving someone else from their high school).  Nap is astounded and he feel that this incident has to be linked to what happened to his brother.

In order to uncover the truth, Nap enlists help from his mentor Augie and his best friend Ellie, both of whom have been with him from the get go.  The ride it takes them all on is dangerous, twisted and full of surprises.

“Don’t Let Go” is one of the best books Harlan Coben has ever written.  It contains interesting, intriguing characters who you can't help but care about deeply, its brilliantly written and has an extremely well-developed plot.  The mystery is complex, compelling and completely exhilarating.  While I guessed the ending fairly early on, it did not spoil the book for me in any way whatever.

For those of you who have read Harlan Coben’s Myron Bolitar series, this book reminded me a lot of those.  Best friends Nap and Ellie’s friendship reminded me of Myron and Esperanza's (especially the in the earlier sports agent books).  I immediately loved Nap and Ellie's characters and this story - in fact, I adored it.  Nap’s past, his search for answers, the crime he decides to solve on his own – it all creates an incredible story – one that sucks you in and that won’t let go until you turn the final page.  Though I admit that the Myron Bolitar series is my favorite of Harlan Coben’s works, I would love to see more of Nap in the future.
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Harlan Coben has achieved another mic drop with his latest book, Don't Let Go.

Don't you hate it when "real life" gets in the way of your reading? If work hadn't gotten in the way, and we hadn't been without power due to a storm for more than 24 hours, I would have devoured this book in one sitting. But even spread out over a few days, this book knocked me out, and once again reminded me (after the fantastic Home last year) what a fantastic writer Coben is.

Napoleon "Nap" Dumas is a police detective in his suburban New Jersey hometown. Now in his mid-30s, living in his childhood home, he's never quite gotten over the death of his twin brother Leo during their senior year in high school. Leo and his girlfriend Diana were found dead on the local railroad tracks, believed to be either poor judgment due to drugs and alcohol, or some kind of double suicide. Nap never could understand how Leo could either make such a colossal mistake or how he could be so desperate, and this lack of closure has haunted him for years.

And if the shock of Leo and Diana's death wasn't enough for Nap to handle, his girlfriend Maura, also a friend of Leo and Diana's, disappeared that night. No matter how hard Nap tried to find her, he never could, and never understood why she left. Fifteen years later, Nap gets an alert that Maura's fingerprints have turned up in a rental car involved in the murder of a policeman, who, it turned out, was in the same high school class as Nap, Leo, and Maura. Suddenly Nap may be able to find answers to the two questions that have plagued him for years, and he is determined to do everything he can to uncover the truth, no matter how many people warn him simply to let it go.

But instead of finding answers, Nap keeps finding more questions, questions he might not want to know the answer to, questions which involve Leo and Maura and Diana and other high school classmates. And for some reason, right in the middle of all of the questions is a mystery surrounding an abandoned military base in their hometown, which some believed was far more nefarious than the story presented by the government.

What happened that fateful night which changed the course of so many lives? Was it government conspiracy, youthful folly gone wrong, or something even more sinister? Will finding the answers set Nap free to live his life, finally able to put the past behind him, or should he take the advice of those who tell him—and not all do it gently—to let it go? And will Nap even survive his hunt for the truth?

Much like Home, not only did Don't Let Go pack some punches, but it also contained a lot of raw emotional power as well. Nap, Maura, his best friend Ellie, and Diana's father (and Nap's mentor) Augie were fascinating characters, each with secrets of their own. Every time I thought I knew where the book was going Coben took the plot in a slightly different direction, and I was truly hooked from start to finish.

How many of us have wondered about whether we could have changed the course of a tragedy if we had only acted differently, or acted at all? That knowledge doesn't always help, and it creates a burden we must bear until we're ready to move on. That burden is so deeply felt in Don't Let Go, and Coben's mastery with the plot's twists and turns as well as its emotional intricacies makes this an excellent book.
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Harlan Coben, the king of literary suspense, is back at it again!

Coben is my go to author for when I need a sure thing - he just ripped me out of a month long book slump with this here little tale, and I am oh so grateful. You really can’t go wrong with his books, he is a master at this genre and always delivers. I love that I catch myself saying “What in the world is going on?!” at least once a chapter in his books. He constantly keeps you on your toes and wondering where the ride will take you.

I very much enjoyed the forward, where Coben explains his inspiration for this book - an actual location which existed in his hometown. He has woven a deeply intricate tale based on this locale, one that I won’t soon forget.

The characters are flawed and real, the dialogue is witty, and the story has suspense, intrigue and a dash of romance.

If you are a fan of this genre, you certainly can’t go wrong with this book!

4.5 stars
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Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben is a 2017 Dutton publication.

An ingenious, potent, and disturbing thriller-

Napoleon ‘Nap’ Dumas’ was enjoying an active senior year in high school, where both he and his twin brother, Leo, were involved in serious romantic relationships, and were busy with extracurricular activities- Leo, with his conspiracy club, and Nap with his hockey team. But, Nap’s world stops on a dime, when Leo and his girlfriend, Diana, are found dead on the railroad tracks, and Nap’s girlfriend, Maura, suddenly leaves town, leaving no traces of her whereabouts for the next fifteen years.

Nap, who went on to become a cop, is still haunted by Maura’s sudden departure and has grieved every single day for his twin brother.

But, when a fellow officer is killed, Leo recognizes him as one of Leo’s buddies from the ‘The Conspiracy Club’, back in high school. But the real kicker is that Maura was with him when he was gunned down, but managed to escape.

This event seems to set off a domino effect, when another member of the ‘The Conspiracy Club’ disappears, and yet another goes completely off grid.

Nap begins to believe Leo and Diana did not die in a senseless drug and alcohol fueled accident, or a suicide pact. Determined to discover the truth about his brother’s death, Nap starts to look into why ‘The Conspiracy Club’ was so interested in an abandoned Nike Missile site. Is there a connection? After all these years, why has Maura suddenly reappeared and why are members of the conspiracy club being murdered?

At this point, I could just say- It’s Harlan Coben. Read it. You’ll like it, I promise.


But, if you need a push, here you go-

I think you will really like Nap. He is unconventional, has a tendency of taking the law into his own hands, has no qualms about breaking the rules from time to time, but is still a straight up guy, who feels things very deeply, and is loyal to a fault.

If you like conspiracy theories, (and who doesn’t like a good conspiracy theory), there’s a really good one woven into the plot, plus it’s quasi- factual. This story also has a cold case element to it, as well, which happens to be one of my favorite crime tropes.

Naturally, it wouldn’t be a HC novel without a couple of steep inclines, breath sucking free falls, a few dangerous hairpin curves, and maybe add in one or two gut punching revelations, for kicks and giggles.

The story is very absorbing, the characters are unique and surprising, and while I say this after nearly every Coben novel- the conclusion of this book is a real stunner. I sat staring into space for about five minutes after I finished the last chapter. Seriously, it was so shocking, it had a numbing effect.

So, back to where we started- It’s Harlan Coben. Read it. You’ll like it, I promise!

5 stars
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Traveling Sister Special Read Review by Brenda and Norma with Kaceey and Lindsay's thoughts.

Don't Let Go is an outstanding and solid new standalone thriller from the thriller master himself (in Brenda and Kaceey's opinion lol) Harlan Coben that we all were very excited to have received from Edelweiss.

We decided to read it as a special birthday read for Brenda's 50th birthday and thought it extremely fitting as this has been Brenda's all time favourite author for some time now. Brenda and Kaceey who are big time fans of Harlan Coben were very excited to read this along with Norma and Lindsay who have only read one or two of his books so far. Brenda only recently introduced Norma to a Harlan Coben novel not too long ago. Don’t Let Go lived up to all the hype created by Brenda and Kaceey for Norma and Lindsay. They are now fans and there will be more Harlan Coben books in the future for these Traveling Sisters.

Don't Let Go is a fast-paced story with big secrets and lies that reach back to 15 years ago. Harlan Coben does a great job revealing layers of deceit along with clues and throwing in a bit of red herrings along the way. He didn't have all of us guessing to the end, although Norma quickly became suspicious early on, she was still left surprised with a few twists as there were plenty of twists and secrets to reveal.

Harlan Coben takes a hometown legend and builds quite an interesting and creative story here that had all of us quickly turning those pages with Norma reading and finishing it mostly in one day. We left the very exciting, suspenseful and intense ending to read together so we could message our thoughts and suspicions to each other. Which makes it all that more of an interesting and enjoyable reading experience for us.

Don't Let Go started off with a bang and didn’t let go to the very end leaving all of us looking forward to our next read by Harlan Coben! We highly recommend adding this one to the top of your list and Don't Let Go till you read it!
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Harlan Coben delivers an intensely suspenseful, captivating, fast-paced thriller that kept me guessing from start to finish. I have read one other book by Coben (The Innocent) which was good, but didn’t “wow” me. With encouragement from my fantastic “sisters” Brenda, Norma and Kaceey, I jumped on board this Traveling Sister Read and tried out Coben’s latest book and it definitely lived up to the hype!

I loved the main character, Nap! He is a police detective who finds himself working a case that involves his personal life from fifteen years ago. I enjoyed following Nap on his journey to explore and expose lies and buried secrets to uncover the mystery that has long haunted him. Nap’s journey takes many unexpected twists and turns and keeps the suspense building as the pages fly by. His sarcastic and witty humour had me giggling throughout every chapter.

This novel was a great re-introduction for me to Coben’s writing. I am definitely hungry for more books from this author and will make sure I add some to my reading list in the near future.

A big thank you to Edelweiss, Penguin Publishing Group and Harlan Coben for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review!
Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34001659-don-t-let-go

Origin by Dan Brown

Origin by Dan Brown


3.87  ·  Rating details ·  19,310 Ratings  ·  2,952 Reviews
Origin by Dan Brown download or read it online for free here
Origin by Dan Brown
Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the ultramodern Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao to attend a major announcement—the unveiling of a discovery that “will change the face of science forever.” The evening’s host is Edmond Kirsch, a forty-year-old billionaire and futurist whose dazzling high-tech inventions and audacious predictions have made him a renowned global figure. Kirsch, who was one of Langdon’s first students at Harvard two decades earlier, is about to reveal an astonishing breakthrough . . . one that will answer two of the fundamental questions of human existence.

As the event begins, Langdon and several hundred guests find themselves captivated by an utterly original presentation, which Langdon realizes will be far more controversial than he ever imagined. But the meticulously orchestrated evening suddenly erupts into chaos, and Kirsch’s precious discovery teeters on the brink of being lost forever. Reeling and facing an imminent threat, Langdon is forced into a desperate bid to escape Bilbao. With him is Ambra Vidal, the elegant museum director who worked with Kirsch to stage the provocative event. Together they flee to Barcelona on a perilous quest to locate a cryptic password that will unlock Kirsch’s secret.

Navigating the dark corridors of hidden history and extreme religion, Langdon and Vidal must evade a tormented enemy whose all-knowing power seems to emanate from Spain’s Royal Palace itself . . . and who will stop at nothing to silence Edmond Kirsch. On a trail marked by modern art and enigmatic symbols, Langdon and Vidal uncover clues that ultimately bring them face-to-face with Kirsch’s shocking discovery . . . and the breathtaking truth that has long eluded us.

“Historically, the most dangerous men on earth were men of God…especially when their gods became threatened.”

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm. —WINSTON CHURCHILL”






 

 

Reviews


     Where do we come from?
    Where are we going?


Yes, it's the new Dan Brown book. Yes, it's pulpy and ridiculous. But I have to say it-- it was really entertaining, too.

The thing about Brown is that he's a mediocre-at-best writer with really fascinating ideas. If you spend too much time analysing individual scenes and sentences, then you're going to start to see the cracks, big and small. Big cracks like world-renowned scientists jumping to ludicrous conclusions, and small cracks like world-renowned scientists suddenly knowing nothing about a subject so that Robert Langdon can inform them (and the reader) of some exciting tidbit.

And Langdon himself must be the stupidest genius ever written. He knows absolutely everything about everything until it's convenient for him to not know something so someone can explain it to him.

BUT, for some reason, Brown's plots and codes and puzzles are interesting enough to... kind of make it okay. At least for me. I love all the information about history, science and religion. I love how you can look up the organizations mentioned and find that they are all real. It's very much a plot over writing book, but sometimes that can be exactly what you need. Mindless, pageturning entertainment.

In Origin, famous scientist and billionaire Edmond Kirsch is about to make a world-changing announcement. His research and technology have led him to make a discovery about the origin of humankind, as well as their future destiny, that will shake the foundations of the world, tear apart religions, and change absolutely everything. He has essentially found answers to the two questions: Where do we come from? and Where are we going?

It's hard not to be drawn in by these universal questions. Then when the announcement event goes horribly wrong and it seems his discovery might be buried forever, Robert Langdon and Ambra Vidal must go on a clue-solving, code-breaking spree across Spain to uncover Kirsch's discovery. Throughout, all I could think was "what could his discovery be?" It would need to be something dramatic enough, something with impact... and, well, personally I loved the reveal.

    Fake news now carries as much weight as real news.


Origin draws on current events and hot topics to make it more relevant to today's world. Brown touches on subjects like "fake news", the advancement of technology and artificial intelligence, and the dark corners of the Internet. He may not be an amazing writer - whatever that means - but he does play on universal thoughts, fears and questions. It makes for a very compelling tale.

I wouldn't recommend this to anyone looking for excellent writing, well-developed characters and a whole lot of sense-making. But if you want to sprint through an almost 500-page novel at breakneck pace and escape from thinking for a while, then it is very enjoyable.
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Dan Brown is back with some of his best work in a while. I was not a huge fan of his last two – Inferno and The Lost Symbol. I think for me they seemed kind of stale after Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code. Origin is now probably my second favorite of his (behind Angels and Demons).

Some of the key points:

Religion and Science – this is a big battle in our world today. It is an exhausting battle for someone like me who goes to church but also loves science. I worry that the feeling is starting to be that the two cannot exist together. Dan Brown does a great job of addressing this debate in this book (even though at times I was worried that it was going to end up just being another annoying commentary on the same debate)

Lead Female Characters – Brown amuses me with every new lead female character. It is always a scientist, art expert, museum curator, etc. who just so happens to be one of the top 5 most beautiful women alive (he has 5 Langdon books, each with one of those top 5 ;) )

The Dan Brown formula – I will say that each of Brown’s book has basically the same structure. A mystery starts (usually in a museum, church, famous building). Langdon meets a woman (see above). Langdon and this woman run around trying to solve the mystery. Yes, that formula is here. However, that felt okay this time. The last two books it felt like old hat – almost like he was phoning it in. But, with this one I was kind of glad to get back into the same formula and he developed the plot and suspense well.

If you like Dan Brown – I recommend this.

If you thought maybe the Langdon series had no gas left – I recommend this.

If you want an interesting, thought-provoking mystery with a lot of suspense – I recommend this.
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FIVE STARS and FIVE MORE!!
Nothing is invented, for its written in nature first. Originality consists of returning to the Origin." -Antoni Gaudi

Where did we come from? Where are we going? These are the two most basic, yet important questions mankind asks of itself. For thousands of years man has struggled with these questions and, in an attempt to fill the void where there is no definite absolute, has created stories and gods to explain the inexplicable.

This book, which is one of the most thrilling books I've read in ages, looks at the science behind "the Origin" while taking Robert Langdon and us on a mind blowing trip around Spain! Dan Brown began writing Science Fiction before he started his Langdon series. Origin harkens back to those days when his books were filled with startling scientific data more than religious codes and dogma. While there still is the religious aspect in the book, the sheer volume of scientific data in Origin is staggering - especially if you are fact checking everything as I was doing. I suspect there will be those who find the science in this book too overwhelming and will not enjoy the book as a result. I, however, wanted MORE!

Yes, there is a questioning of blind religious faith. Yes, Brown does once again shed light on extremists within the Catholic Church - as we should on all extremism. Yes, Brown does force the reader to look at fascism in a hard, cold light - AS WE ALL SHOULD!!! This book is one of the most timely, relevant fiction based on fact novels published in a long time. Already there are those who are saying it is "tripe." I daresay that they have not read the book OR it pointed a finger at them and they felt uncomfortable. This is not a "typical Dan Brown tromp." It is far better than that. The writing is impeccable, the characters fully developed and the research is thorough and well sussed. Moreover, it is a thriller that will keep you guessing until the end of the book which is exactly what thrillers should do.

And that, my friends, does not even allow for the surprise twist at the end!! The answer to "where are we going" left me dumbfounded, speechless, flabbergasted!! Yes. YES. YES!!! OMGOSH!!! The entire book is worth reading just to get to that point!! I almost closed the books hen I read it! I was too emotionally overwhelmed - but - the ending is beautiful! This a MUST READ book!! Go. Now. Get this book!!

I leave you with this riddle:
Ampersand phone home
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Origin is not likely to win literary awards nor garner critical acclaim; for what it's worth though, it is darn entertaining.

Ever since I've picked up The Da Vinci Code, I've been hooked on the Robert Langdon books. I admit that I have a weakness for the formula Dan Brown utilises for his thrillers, employing an intoxicating mix of history, art, poetry, symbols, codes, and famous landmarks or architecture. A rousing adventure through exotic and renowned locations that have me reaching for Google search ever so often.

As usual, all the architecture and locations mentioned are real, and again it fuelled the wanderlust in me. This time with Spain as the backdrop, we have the bizarre and breath-taking Guggenheim Bilbao as the opening venue with a fair amount of exposition on some of its more notable modern art exhibits. Robert Langdon will then, of course, find himself heading from one famous location or landmark to another. The narrative becomes info-dumpy at these parts of the story; a little more than usual in this novel, which does make the pacing slower.

It goes without saying that the author went through a lot of research to produce his Robert Langdon series and it shows. This is probably the most critical component of his books which makes them so enjoyable for me. One that overcomes the fact that his stories are repetitive and his prose ordinary.

Nothing has changed as far as his plot structure and characterisation are concerned. It all starts with a murder, and somehow Robert will end up on the run, with a beautiful sidekick (be it a museum director or a scientist or some other expert of sorts), from some national guard or local police as well as an assassin with a tragic past. At the same time, he is also running against time to solve pertinent clues to unwind the mystery, etc. That said, there seemed to be less code-solving in this novel, which was a bit of a downer.

The real history that underscored this narrative highlighted the dark times of Spain under the military dictator, Francisco Franco. With the current political crisis in the same country, I couldn't help feeling that some strange twist of fate is at work here that would have this novel being released around the same time.

Origin will not win any points for originality. It is, however, a real page-turner. Despite not having the breakneck pace of some of its predecessors, I still find myself engrossed and captivated, unable to put the book down.

What I found compelling is the underlying theme which resonated quite deeply with me. It is about creation and destiny, and the vast divide between religion and science in answering the universal questions of 'Where do we come from?' and 'Where are we going?' It deals with relevant current issues around rapid technological advancements, especially in artificial intelligence and wearable technology, and the propagation of sensational or fake news fuelling conspiracy theories through ungovernable internet media.

If you are looking for non-cerebral page-turning entertainment, or if you are a Robert Langdon fan like me who can overlook certain flaws, I will recommend Origin.

To conclude, I'd like to post a quote of relevance to the story, from one of the world's greatest and most renowned scientists, who had been very outspoken about his religious views:

A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty - it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man.

- Albert Einstein
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 4.Pi to the sixth digit.
4.3141592 to be exact.

Mr. Brown, why dost thou hate the Catholic Church?
I read an article where Mr. Brown stated that he writes what he wants to read. I am certainly glad for that because he writes what I want to read too.
His books have been criticized for being formulaic and I agree that they are to a certain extent. But if I cared enough and had time enough I could list several more authors who churn out book after book that are also formulaic in nature who don't receive the same criticisms and harsh words about it as Mr. Brown does.
Enough of that, here are my thoughts on Origin.
Because the subject matter dealt with comparative myth and religion the story was right in my wheelhouse. I guessed who was behind all the shenanigans at about the half way point but that didn't deter from my enjoyment of the story.
The reason I decided not to rate this 5 stars is because some of the "info dumps" felt like I was reading Wikipedia entries. While learning about famous people, places, and things can be enlightening too much of it took me out of the flow of the narrative.
For example, there is a short explanation of the history of the ampersand (&) which was clever and interesting but on the other side of the coin was the many page exposition on the architecture of the Guggenheim Museum.
When I think about Langdon I can not help but picture Tom Hanks. When I picture Tom Hanks I picture Forrest Gump. Forrest Gump once said, "life is a box of chocolates, you never know what you are gonna get". Well with Dan Brown you know what you are going to get. For me Dan Brown is the chocolate with the caramel inside and I love caramel. Yes it is familiar but that doesn't mean it doesn't taste good.
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YES I HAVE READ THE BOOK ALREADY! I HATE PEOPLE WHO RATE BEFORE THEY HAVE EVEN READ IT!


I called in sick (as much as you can call in sick from your weekly volunteer job) and cancelled a doctor's appt. to be home to get parcel from Amazon/Canada Post.

Sat down .. read it through straight to the end. 6 hours and 22 minute --- or approx. the length of 10 Danielle Steel reads.

Want to know what the book was about? Well ... read the synopsis.

I thoroughly enjoyed it but I now want a honking big glass of Spanish wine AND some tapas.
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Robert Langdon, my dear old friend, thank you for coming back to me!

Okay. So.

Origin is another signature page-turning, heart-pounding, thought-provoking, Dan Brown novel. This Langdon thriller differs, however, in many respects from the previous four. Do you need to read the other Langdon novels to understand this one? NO. Each Langdon novel is very distinct. In fact, the nods to Robert Langdon's previous adventures are so minimal and slight that it's as though Langdon hasn't been involved in almost destroying the world a couple of times. Robert Langdon is like Seattle Grace Hospital (Grey's Anatomy). Why the hell would anyone continue to go to Seattle Grace Hospital? Well, the same goes for Langdon: why the hell would anyone invite Langdon along to, well, anything!? Anyways, I digress.

The main difference for this one is that this one was predictive rather than reactive, by which I mean Dan Brown is tackling the future (for the most part) instead of looking back at history. This may lack some punch for some readers who have become accustomed to Brown tackling controversial issues of human history (think Da Vinci Code, Lost Symbol, Angels & Demons). Here's a further explanation of what I mean:

Sure, Dan Brown does examine history in this novel; I mean, the title of the book literally is Origin . Buttttt, he isn't so much looking back at human history as he is looking back at the history of how life began. Hence, the first major question being asked in this novel: Where do we come from? And the answer Brown offers up is very thought-provoking and intriguing. And although there is a lot of truth (but also some conjecture) you can see how the implications of this finding would be earth-shattering for religion.

That said, the real point of this novel is to come to a conclusion about what happens to humans in the future. Hence the second main question posed in this novel: Where are we going? The answer to this question is purely conjecture (obviously we can't predict the future) but it is also very thought-provoking. I won't give anything away to someone who hasn't read the book yet, but I'll say that there is likely a lot of truth to where we are going...because it's already happening....

As to what I mean when I say this book is more predictive than reactive. Dan Brown incorporates a lot of descriptive art, architecture, and history, to give the illusion that there is a clue-filled historical hunt being undertaken, as was the case with Brown's famous novels like The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons. However, this really is just an illusion of an historical hunt. There is nothing of the sort taking place in Origin. In Origin, there are hardly any clues hidden in paintings, hardly any ancient symbols left out for Langdon to solve. In The Da Vinci Code, Brown ingeniously devised a plot out of hundred-year-old symbology in paintings and sculptures, and often the reader was left gasping at these startlingly believable and thought-provoking clues. There is almost none of that in Origin. Mostly, this is just a thriller, through and through. It's a race against the clock, with history and art sprinkled in to give it that nice Dan Brown flavour. But, as I mentioned, those sprinkles are just an illusion. This book predicts the future and uses modern technology to do so, which is what makes it a book of prediction. It uses super-powerful computers to help aid Langdon and his beautiful sidekick through to the conclusion. There is a handy-dandy character in this book named Winston (those who've read this know who I'm talking about *wink wink*), without whom Langdon would have gotten nowhere. Winston is the deus ex machina for this book.

Part of my disappointment with this book was that it felt as though Brown got lazy with his puzzles and clues. His previous books used clever and sometimes ingenious clues. The clues in this one were kind of lazy and easy. I mean, even I knew what BIO-EC346 was... I came to realize this book wasn't so much about the journey as it was the outcome. The outcome ended up being worthwhile, which was a relief.

In many ways, this book is eerily relevant. Kirsch is essentially Elon Musk (who happens to be a good friend of Kirsch). And the central question of where we are going toys with our sense of morality. What do we want from our future? Do we have a choice, even? You will find yourself wondering just how much damage humans are doing with their complacency and ignorance to the power of artificial intelligence. The painful reality is that, for the majority of society (the poor and powerless), we have no choice in the matter of where we are heading.

One thing to caution someone who picks this book up: be patient. The book does get good, but you have to get yourself through the first 200 pages or so, then the action starts.

A few little cool bits I picked up on. Langdon mentions a hotel he once ate at in Spain: Gran Hotel Princesa Sofia - a cute little reference to Princess Sofia from Da Vinci Code. Also, on page 428: the king of Spain tells his son, "And history has proven repeatedly that lunatics will rise to power again and again on tidal waves of aggressive nationalism and intolerance, even in places where it seems utterly incomprehensible.....that light will fade unless we illuminate the minds of our future generations." Probably a jab at a current somebody holding the highest office in America.

Anyway, another great novel and so happy to see Langdon return. Well worth the read, in my opinion! Pick this book up, engage your mind, and have a discussion with your friends. That's the purpose of Dan Brown books, after all.
Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32283133-origin

The Shining by Stephen King

Stephen King - The Shining 01 - The Shining


4.18  ·  Rating details ·  840,916 Ratings  ·  15,341 Reviews
Jack Torrance's new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he'll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote...and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old.
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The Shining by Stephen King

“Sometimes human places, create inhuman monsters.”

“Wendy? Darling? Light, of my life. I'm not gonna hurt ya. I'm just going to bash your brains in.”

“This inhuman place makes human monsters.”

“The world's a hard place, Danny. It don't care. It don't hate you and me, but it don't love us, either. Terrible things happen in the world, and they're things no one can explain. Good people die in bad, painful ways and leave the folks that love them all alone. Sometimes it seems like it's only the bad people who stay healthy and prosper. The world don't love you, but your momma does and so do I.”

“Monsters are real. Ghosts are too. They live inside of us, and sometimes, they win.”


“The tears that heal are also the tears that scald and scourge.”

“But see that you get on. That's your job in this hard world, to keep your love alive and see that you get on, no matter what. Pull your act together and just go on.”






Reviews


This scene from Friends pretty much sums up my feelings about this book:


"Rachel: Hmm. (she opens the freezer) Umm, why do you have a copy of The Shining in your freezer?

Joey: Oh, I was reading it last night, and I got scared, so.

Rachel: But ah, you’re safe from it if it’s in the freezer?

Joey: Well, safer. Y'know, I mean I never start reading The Shining, without making sure we’ve got plenty of room in the freezer, y'know.

Rachel: How often do you read it?

Joey: Haven’t you ever read the same book over and over again?

Rachel: Well, umm, I guess I read Little Women more than once. But I mean that’s a classic, what’s so great about The Shining?

Joey: The question should be Rach, what is not so great about The Shining. Okay? And the answer would be: nothing. All right? This is like the scariest book ever. I bet it’s way better than that classic of yours."
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If you have not read The Shining already do not overlook the opportunity presented by the publication of Doctor Sleep, the sequel, to revisit one of the best ghost stories of our time. The appearance of the follow up offers a perfect justification for stepping through those bat-wing doors for the first time. 
It has been a lifetime since I read The Shining for the first time, over thirty years ago. I enjoyed it then for its effectiveness in telling a scary, no, a very scary story. Reading it now is colored, as is all of life, by our accumulation (or lack of accumulation) of experience. We see, or appreciate colors, textures, shapes, structures, and feelings with more experienced, educated eyes. We have seen, or are at least aware of real world things that are scarier than any fictional spectres. So, what does it look like through old, cloudy lenses?

It remains a very scary story. The things that stand out for me now are not so much the deader rising up out of a bathtub to pursue a curious child, although that is still pretty creepy, or the mobile topiary, which still works pretty well at making the hair on one’s neck and arms stand at attention. But King was using the haunted house trope to look at more personal demons. And those shine through more clearly now.
He had some drinking issues at the time he wrote the book, when he was 30, and concern about that is major here. Jack Torrance is an alcoholic, no question. He also has issues with anger management, not that the little shit he clocks while teaching at a New England prep school didn’t have it coming. He did. But one cannot do that to a student, however deserving, and expect to remain employed for long. His little boy, however, most certainly did not deserve a broken arm. Jack is very remorseful, and wants to make things right. He manages to get a gig taking care of the Overlook Hotel in Colorado over the winter. It will offer him a chance to get something right after a string of getting things wrong, offer a chance to save his marriage, and offer an opportunity to work on his unfinished play. Risky? Sure. But a gamble worth taking. And his wife, Wendy, agrees, despite having serious misgivings. There are no attractive alternatives.

Of course, we all know that the Overlook is not your typical residence. Odd things happen, sounds are heard, thoughts from somewhere outside find their way into your mind. Jack is targeted, and boy is he vulnerable.

But five-year-old Danny is the real key here. He is the proud possessor of an unusual talent, the shining of the book’s title. Danny can not only do a bit of mind-reading, he can also see things that other people cannot. And for a little guy he has a huge talent. He also has an invisible friend named Tony with whom only he can communicate.

It is difficult to think about the book without finding our mental screens flickering with the images of Jack Nicholson in full cartoonish psycho rage, the very effective sound of a Big Wheel followed by a steadicam coursing through the long halls of the hotel, and the best casting decision ever in choosing Scatman Crothers to play Dick Halloran. By the way, the hotel is based on a real-world place, the Stanley Hotel, in Estes Park, Colorado. And the Overlook’s spooky room 217 was inspired by the supposedly haunted room 217 at the Stanley.
The room number was changed in the film to 237, at the request of the Timberline hotel, which was used for exterior shots. There is so much that differentiates Kubrick’s film from the book that they are almost entirely different entities. The differences do require a bit of attention here. First, and foremost, the book of The Shining is about the disintegration of a family due to alcoholism and anger issues. How a child survives in a troubled family is key. The film is pretty much pure spook house, well-done spook house, but solely spook house, nonetheless, IMHO. There is considerable back-story to Jack and Wendy that gets no screen time. You have to read the book to get that. Jack is a victim, as much as Wendy and Danny. You would never get that from the slobbering Jack of the film. The maze in the book was pretty cool, right? I liked it too, but it does not exist in the book. I believe it was put in to replace the talented topiary, which is the definition of a bad trade. There is significant violence in the book that never made its way into Kubrick’s film, but which very much raises a specter of domestic violence that is terrorizing real people living in real horror stories. There are a few lesser elements. Jack wielded a roque mallet, not an axe. Danny is not interrupted in his travels through the corridors by Arbus-like twin sisters. And the sisters in question are not even twins. Thereare plenty more, but you get the idea. An interesting film, for sure, but not really the most faithful interpretation of the book. King saw that a film that more closely reflected what he had written reached TV screens in 1997, with a six-hour mini-series version.
Irrelevancies of a personal nature
The opening shot was filmed on the Going–to-the-Sun Road in Montana’s Glacier National Park in Montana. I have had the pleasure (7 times in one visit) and recommend the drive wholeheartedly. It is a pretty narrow road though, so you will have to drive carefully. Bring along the appropriate musical media for the best effect, Wendy Carlos’s Rocky Mountain, and dress warmly. It was below freezing when I reached the top of the road, in August. Some exteriors for Kubrick’s film were shot at the Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood in Oregon. I visited but did not stay there back in 2008. Sadly I do not have any decent personal photos from the place. I can report, though, on a bitof kitsch. There is a place in the hotel where an ax is lodged in a block of wood, with HEEEEERE’s JOHNNY on the ax, a tourist photo-op. And yes, I did. Sadly, or luckily, the shot did not come out well, so you will be spared.

Back to the book, Danny’s talent is a two-edged sword. He is afflicted with seeing more than anyone his age should have to see, but on the other hand, he has a tool he can use to try to save them all. Whether he can or not is a core tension element here.

King is fond of placing his stories in literary context. He peppers the text with references to various relevant books and authors. I expect these are meant to let us know his influences. Horace Walpole, author of The Castle of Otranto, a Gothic classic, is mentioned, as is Shirley Jackson, of Hill House fame. King had used a quote from this book in Salem’s Lot. A family saga rich with death and destruction, Cashelmara is mentioned as are some more contemporary items, like The Walton Family, the idealized antithesis to the Torrance Family, Where the Wild Things Are and novelist Frank Norris. The primary literary reference here is Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death, which is cited many times. There had been a costume ball back in hotel’s history and it is the impending climax of that party, the unmasking, that looms here. And toss in nods to Treasure Island and Bluebeard for good measure.
King often includes writers in his work, avatars for himself.

    I write about writers because I know the territory. Also, you know it's a great job for a protagonist in a book. Without having to hold down a steady job, writers can have all sorts of adventures. Also, if they disappear, it's a long time before they are missed. Heh-heh-heh. – from an AOL interview 
Jack Torrance is a writer as well as a teacher. The play that Jack is writing undergoes a transformation that mirrors Jack’s own. In fact, there is a fair bit or mirroring going on here. Jack’s affection for his father as a kid was as strong as Danny's is for him. His father was an abusive alcoholic. While Jack is not (yet) the monster his father was, he is also an alcoholic with abusive tendencies.
I never had a father in the house. My mother raised my brother and I alone. I wasn’t using my own history, but I did tap into some of the anger you sometimes feel to the kids, where you say to yourself: I have really got to hold on to this because I’m the big person here, I’m the adult. One reason I wanted to use booze in the book is that booze has a tendency to fray that leash you have on your temper…For a lot of kids, Dad is the scary guy. It’s that whole thing where your mother says, ‘You just wait until your father comes home!” In The Shining, these people were snowbound in a hotel and Dad is always home! And Dad is fighting this thing with the bottle and he’s got a short temper anyway. I was kind of feeling my own way in that because I was a father of small children. And one of the things that shocked me about fatherhood was it was possible to get angry at your kids. (from the EW interview cited in Extra Stuff)
He’s right. I have had the pleasure and I know. Wendy gets some attention as well, as we learn a bit about her mother, and see Wendy’s fear that she has inherited elements of her mother’s awfulness.

Not everything shines here. There are times when five-year-old Danny seems much older than his tender years, even given his extraordinary circumstances. It struck me as surprising that there is no mention of anyone suggesting that maybe Jack might attend an AA meeting. But these are like single dead pixels on a large screen.

If you want to read horror tales that are straight up scare’ems, there are plenty in the world. But if you appreciate horror that offers underlying emotional content, and I know you do, my special gift tells me that The Shining is a brilliant example of how a master illuminates the darkness.
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Quite simply put, The Shining is the best horror story I have ever read. It scared the hell out of me.

Over a period of time, I have noticed certain standard "motifs" in horror stories. One of these I call "The Lost Child". Such stories will typically involve a child, who can see what the silly grownups cannot see (or, even if they do see, don't acknowledge because it goes against reason and logic): and who fights, however high the odds stacked against him/ her are. Danny Torrance is such a boy.

Danny can read minds. He can see the frightening thoughts inside his Dad's and Mom's heads ("DIVORCE", "SUICIDE") but is powerless to do anything about it. Danny does not know that he has a gift; he takes it as a matter of course, until Dick Halloran of the Overlook Hotel tells him that he "shines on".

Jack Torrance, Danny's Dad, reformed alcoholic and struggling writer, is trying to put his life back together after a tragedy. He gets what he sees as the ideal chance when he lands the job of caretaker of the Overlook Hotel for the winter. In the snowed-in hotel with only his son and wife Wendy, Jack assumes that he will get enough quality time to be with his family, patch up old quarrels, and write that breakout novel.

But the Overlook has other plans. The hotel, which feeds on and grows in strength from the evils committed on its premises, wants Danny-permanently-to join its crew of ghostly inhabitants. And to do that, it needs to get to Jack...

The novel slowly grows in horror, starting with mild unease, moving up through sweaty palms and dry mouth, to pure, gut-wrenching terror. Jack's slow slide into madness is paralleled by the growth in power of the hotel's dark miasma, and Danny's extraordinary capabilities. We are on a roller-coaster ride into darkness.

The world of grownups is often frighteningly incomprehensible to young children: these fears seldom die as we grow up, but remain dormant in our psyche. There are very few of us who does not have a ghost in our childhood somewhere. It is when the writer invokes this ghost that story gets to us. King does a masterly job of awakening that child, and putting him/ her in the midst of childhood terrors through the alter ego of Danny Torrance, lost in the cavernous corridors of the Overlook.

There are a lot of passages which literally creeped me out in this novel (the topiary animals, the fire hose in the corridor, the woman in the bathroom to name a few). As King has said elsewhere, the monster behind the door is more frightening than the monster slavering at you: this book is full of such monsters. More importantly, you will keep on remembering your own boogeymen while you are reading; and long after you finish, you will feel the urge to look behind you.

Horror stories are a form of catharsis. As King says, the writer takes you to the body covered under the sheet: you feel it, and are frightened. At the same time, you are relieved that the body is not you.
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About as perfect a haunted house story as can be, King was at his best here.

It's as though he built a haunted house and then filled every nook and cranny with detail. King is also at his best in regard to characterization, all well rounded and complete, we know family relationships, group dynamics, all the old hidden buried fears.

King touches base with psychological elements, theological, metaphysical, spiritual, and cryptic aspects of a ghost story to wrap the reader in a blanket of horror.

** I watched the 1980 Stanley Kubrik film recently and this made me want to reread the book (which I need to anyway). Kubrik's film grasps the psychological elements of the book and delivers an extra large thin crust The Works pizza of haunted house horror. Jack Nicholson's portrayal of Jack Torrance is still the defining image of this tortured man. While some critics have derided the slow pace of the film (atypical for jump-out-and-yell-BOO! horror fliks of the time) I felt that Kubrik was building the tone and mood of the story to the grisly final moments. King himself has attributed mixed emotions to the film as an adaptation, but has consistently agreed that the imagery of an internal struggle with the dark side of Jack's psyche is a contribution to the horror film genre. King also disagreed with the casting of Nicholson who too closely identified with insanity (due largely to his exceptional work in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest). Interestingly, King himself was battling alcoholism while writing the classic and viewing his work and Kubrik's vision from this perspective adds greater depth to an understanding and appreciation of both.
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His best book is 'The Green Mile,' but since it doesn't quite fall under the Horror category, it is either 'Shining' or 'Carrie' which take top prize.

There is not one single detriment to this well-known tale of the disintegration of the American family within the realm of the un-dead. King here is as he has never been since: metaphoric and concise. He usually adds fact upon useless fact that converts a 400 page work into something more gargantuan, &, therefore, less enthralling.

King is not a fan of the Kubrick film, and it is easy to see why. His story is about the build up of tension, the "shining' a catalyst that promotes a bridge between the haunts & the humans. The boiler burns, blows everything up just as Jack Torrence forgets his humanity and becomes an ego/id complex. His selfishness & his alcoholism (a hereditary illness... another theme about family "curses," and weak threads) leads to savagery. The ghosts are the manifestations of a child's bruised home-life and the suffocation and claustrophobia have more to do with that tragic past than the hotel's eerie interior.

I place this masterpiece next to 'The Exorcist', a tale that is more than just a simple tale of demonic possession. To say the 'The Shining' is just a ghost story is something Kubrick ran with... completely ignoring the pathos of a family eating away at itself. The Torrences suffer because they had been broken prior to the stay at the Overlook... it seems that for this one all the stars aligned and all the ingredients for one of the most amazing horror stories of all time mixed exquisitely. This one was the one that made King king.
Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11588.The_Shining?from_search=true

Come Sundown by Nora Roberts

Come Sundown by Nora Roberts


4.12  ·  Rating details ·  11,727 Ratings  ·  1,574 Reviews
A saga of love, family ties, and twisted passions from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Obsession…

Come Sundown by Nora Roberts
The Bodine ranch and resort in western Montana is a family business, an idyllic spot for vacationers. A little over thirty thousand acres and home to four generations, it’s kept running by Bodine Longbow with the help of a large staff, including new hire Callen Skinner. There was another member of the family once: Bodine’s aunt, Alice, who ran off before Bodine was born. She never returned, and the Longbows don’t talk about her much. The younger ones, who never met her, quietly presume she’s dead. But she isn’t. She is not far away, part of a new family, one she never chose—and her mind has been shattered…

When a bartender leaves the resort late one night, and Bo and Cal discover her battered body in the snow, it’s the first sign that danger lurks in the mountains that surround them. The police suspect Cal, but Bo finds herself trusting him—and turning to him as another woman is murdered and the Longbows are stunned by Alice’s sudden reappearance. The twisted story she has to tell about the past—and the threat that follows in her wake—will test the bonds of this strong family, and thrust Bodine into a darkness she could never have imagined.
 “Mothers do, every day. It’s funny, Bo, how a woman can bring two children into the world, raise them up the same way—the same rules and values, indulgences and disciplines. And still two separate people come out of it all.”
“There's just no love like the love of a mother for a child, no matter how that child comes into their life, and no loss or grief to match it.”






Reviews


I haven’t read a book written by Nora Roberts in several years. When this one cropped up on my radar, due to some pretty heavy marketing, I stopped to check out the synopsis and realized it was a romantic suspense novel, and it was not a part of a series, so I added it to the TBR pile.

For some reason, I have struggled with this review. I wrote down some thoughts, then scrapped them, at least three times.

I dawdled so long the book was automatically returned to the library, along with all the notes I’d saved. GRRR.

But, the long and short of it is this - the book would have been amazing if it had been written as a straight up thriller.

However, my attention was divided between two different threads for most of the book. One thread involved the long- ago disappearance of Bodine Longbow’s, Aunt Alice, and the current day murders of two women.

The second thread spotlights the challenges of Bo’s job as the manager of the family’s Montana resort, and the arrival of her brother’s best friend, Cal Striker. Bo and Cal would like to see where their attraction to one another might lead, but there are a few heavy complications they must resolve first.

To make matters more precarious, Cal’s return happened to coincide with the recent murders, which puts him on the hot seat.

The romantic elements, to be honest, felt forced. Bo’s ‘sex doesn’t have to be complicated’ act sucked all the passion out of the equation for me, as well as her pragmatism in other areas of her life. She was a little bland to me, despite her quick retorts and comebacks.

I just didn’t feel as though the couple had a real bond other than being hot for each other physically, and the only reason they jumped through all the hoops, was so they could hook up without ruffling anyone’s feathers. As a result, the angst was too low key and the last- minute attachment of the HEA, fell flat.

However, the suspense elements were outstanding! In fact, I wondered if Roberts’ alter-ego, J.D. Robb, had begun to completely take over her personality, because this novel was so much darker than her usual fare, becoming downright gritty, as a matter of fact. The atmosphere was so tense and the situation so dire, it made me squirm a little, and I’m a veteran reader of the most dark and twisted thrillers out there.

Then there is the story of Aunt Alice, which deals with the familial bonds and resentments that have festered so long, finally coming to a head, and the resulting fallout.

The drama is absorbing and heartbreaking, but ultimately inspiring. It is also multi-generational, which gave the story more depth, with the added appeal of a family saga, which I am always a sucker for.

Despite Roberts' reputation as the queen of romance, she can write a thriller right up there with the best of them, if she so desired. This set up, though, was a little rough around the edges.

Romantic suspense can be a tricky blend, but this approach, while original, seemed to keep the two threads separated, so that they didn’t feel like they belonged in the same book together, until the final few chapters, that is, where everything does wrap up nicely, I must admit.

Overall, Alice’s story is very, very good, as is the murder mystery, which kept me guessing until the bitter end. So, even though the romance was a dud, in my opinion, I still recommend this one to fans of RS or to those who enjoy tense, edgy thrillers.
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I finally popped my Nora Roberts cherry! :) 
I'm not sure why it's taken me so many years to pick up one of her books, but I'm sure glad I won this one, otherwise I may never have gotten around to reading it. Come Sundown is a perfect way to ease into her books; it's a standalone, so no worrying about committing to a series with 92 entries to date, and it is completely captivating with a fast pace alongside a dark, mysterious overtone. The thing that set this book apart from others of romantic suspense was the life she breathed into these deep, realistic characters. Roberts clearly knows how to produce a novel that is full of everything you want in domestic suspense, but her characters are what stole the show in my humble opinion. There were a few spots that felt a little fluffed up and I felt maybe 50 pages or so could have been shaved off, but otherwise this was a near perfect read. Highly recommended for fans of romantic suspense that don't want to sacrifice on characterization!
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Come Sundown is a powerful, compelling story showcasing the healing power of love and the amazing ability of the human soul and spirit to survive and recover from unimaginable, mind altering pain and sadistic evil.  It’s also the story of family doing what family does . . . loving unconditionally, making and cherishing memories, surviving loss and pain, building a future on hopes and dreams.   
Nora Roberts is a master at writing about close-knit families bound by strong emotional ties whether related by blood, friendship, or romance, and we see that once again in this book.  Four generations of Bodine women, working together with the heart, gut, and grit of the pioneer women who first came west, lay the foundation for this story.  A strong, rich support cast including family, friends, and co-workers cements this epic saga of perseverance and triumph, with the added bonus of a friends to lovers romance (times 3).

Two stories play out in Come Sundown with one revealed through a series of flashbacks up until the point where the stories and timelines merge.  Two stories - One family - A span of twenty-five years.  The stories become one later in the book when prayers are finally answered, but is it too little, too late?  Alice Bodine was only eighteen the night she slipped away from home heading toward California.  After brief, spotty correspondence, she vanished like a ghost in the night and was later presumed dead.  But readers know that after three long years away, a weary, homesick Alice was homeward bound toting a backpack full of broken dreams when she made a fatal mistake.  Now she fears she'll never go home again as there's no escape route from hell.

I won't reveal any spoilers, but I have to say that Alice's story was the big draw for me in Come Sundown.  Brilliantly written, her plight is what takes this story to another level as it unfolds in tragic bits and pieces - so horrific, so raw and graphic, so physically and mentally devastating that it left me reeling time and time again.  Roberts's villains are often sadistically evil and cruel and this one is no exception, ranking high on the depraved, psychotic killer list. The theme of nature vs. nurture often used by this author is prevalent as true identities are revealed near the end.

After the opening flashback introducing Alice and cueing readers into her fate, the story moves to the present where we meet Bodine Longbow who runs the upscale Bodine Resort and her brothers who operate the Bodine Ranch - both offering guests an exclusive western cowboy experience.  This part of the story moved a little slow for me as it centers on the day to day operations while introducing readers to all the players.  It took me awhile to settle in and feel the connection between Bodine and Callen (her childhood crush and now love interest) who has returned home to work at Bodine Ranch.  The pace is slow and easy as the couple flirts around each other, exploring the sparks flying between them while figuring out where they're headed in the future.  The discovery of two brutally murdered women raises the stakes and intensity as the town now knows there's a serial killer in their midst.  From this point forward, I was on the edge of my seat, flipping pages trying to figure out the "who" and "why".  And after a connection is made to Alice - I couldn't put the book down.

Come Sundown is a heart-wrenching story of devastating loss and unbearable pain, but at the same time it's a story of hope, perseverance, unlimited love and faith and like the awe-inspiring sundown that appears again and again - the promise of another day.  The vast western Montana landscape, rich in gorgeous sunsets and cold, snowy winters adds a beautiful yet harsh element vital to this story.  Like a curvy backroad, Come Sundown unfolds through a series of twists and bends before ending on a shocking reveal that I didn't see coming.  Another intense, spellbinding Romance/Suspense story by Nora Roberts.  A Must Read!
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I listened to this story without reading the book blurb and highly recommend doing it this way as I think too much is revealed in the setup. It's enough to know that this story involves the Bodine family of Western Montana, which includes four generations of women. The main character is Bodine Longbow, the youngest who runs the family's high-end resort. Her older brother runs the adjacent family ranch. Her childhood crush, Callen (Cal) Skinner returns back to the area following a stint in Hollywood and begins working for the family.

The span of the story begins in 1991 and transitions to the present day for the first half of the book. It begins with the 1991 disappearance of Alice Bodine, Bodine's maternal aunt. It is a terrifying event and readers should be forewarned that there is a sexual assault though not graphic. In the present day, the bodies of two young women are discovered right around the time Cal returns so suspicion is cast his way. Therein lies the main conflict of the story.

This was more of a mystery than suspense as I was challenged to figure out how the past influences the present, which I found more compelling. Even though my main hypothesis was correct, there were still some details I didn't get right. And, the characters were so well developed, typical of a Nora Roberts story, my early discovery didn't lessen my pleasure. The romances (there were a couple) took a back seat to the mystery element but were pleasant enough, also fine by me.

What I found outstanding was the narration. This was my first time listening to Elisabeth Rodgers and I was extremely pleased. There were a LOT of characters, accents and ages she had to accommodate and I always knew who was talking. The voices of the primary characters were so distinctive and consistent. Well done!

I liked this story and decided some time ago that I'd only listen to Nora's single titles, which are all romantic suspense. Best decision I ever made as her narrators are always really, really good and elevate the reading experience. That was definitely the case with this story, one that I very much enjoyed.
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For years, Nora Roberts has been my feel-good author. If I’m sick or depressed or just stressed, she’s my go-to fiction author. She’s my literary popcorn. Her books are a bubblebath for my brain. 
There’s something about her writing that just absorbs me from the first page, and her characters always feel like family. The work ethic of Nora Roberts astounds me. Every year, she puts out at least three (often four) new books. These are books that have never before been published. And no, she doesn’t have a team of writers working under her name. If a book says it’s written by Nora Roberts or her pen name, J.D. Robb, then she wrote it herself. And she’s not doing this for money; with over two hundred books published, the woman is set for life. No, she writes because it’s her passion, and I respect her immensely. Yes, her work is formulaic, but it’s supposed to be!! I don’t pick up her books to be surprised; I pick them up for their familiarity and the comfort that brings.

Okay, end my gush-session over Nora. On to this actual book!

Come Sundown is, like all of Nora’s books, a story with family at its core. Whether borne of blood or forged by friendship, family is always the central theme of Nora’s novels. This book takes place on the Bodine Ranch and Resort in the heart of Big Sky Country, otherwise known as Montana. Bodine Longbow is our female main character and manager of the resort side of her namesake. Callen Skinner, her brother’s best friend and her own childhood crush, has returned home after leaving at eighteen to make a name for himself in Hollywood. He’s the best horseman around, and owner of the most unique horse around, Sundown. This trick horse is more than just a horse to Cal; he’s Cal’s brother and friend. The relationship between the two is so sweet to read about, but the relationship between Cal and Bo is even more fun to watch blossom. As always, Nora is the queen of romance, and in this book we have one central romance, with two more budding romances on the periphery.

But as stated previously, the core of this book isn’t romance; it’s family. And this family has a skeleton in their closet, one that reasserts itself in a brutal and heartbreaking way as the story progresses. I won’t get into what this skeleton is, as it’s a central plot point that I don’t want to spoil, but it was harsh. I know terrible things happen in life, and that those terrible things can (and should) make their way into fiction. But at times, the experiences of one character were incredibly hard to read about. There should be a couple of trigger warnings with this book (especially for rape). But, though there were aspects of this book that were uncomfortably realistic, I knew that everything was going to be okay. The best part of Nora’s books are the happy endings, and this book definitely delivered that.

All in all, this was a great standalone offering from one of my favorite authors. It had romance and horse and gorgeous sunsets and family dinners filled with laughter. It had love conquering all and good triumphing over evil. If you’re in the market for a romance with a surprising amount of substance but a guaranteed happy ending, I highly recommend this book.
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Nora Roberts’ books are like cookies made with Grandma’s recipe: sweet, satisfying, and positively foolproof. There is no more surefire pick-me-up or slump buster. Her books sell like hotcakes because she knows how to give people what they want, and she somehow manages to crank out more than one a year. I guess it’s no wonder she’s so good, with that much practice under her belt.

Come Sundown is the perfect escapist read, set on a Montana ranch and resort owned by the kind of family you wish you were a part of. Multiple generations live and work on the grounds, and everybody has a role that fits their nature perfectly. They’re joined by a handful of outsiders who quickly become like family as well. Sound like too much of a lovefest to be believable? Enter the second storyline: Aunt Alice left home years ago in a fit of teenage rebellion, but ends up being held captive by a kidnapping sadist just a few miles away from the family that alternately misses and resents her. The descriptions of Alice’s captivity and her treatment at the hands of her tormentor are hard to read (trigger warning for sure), but I could deal with it because I knew Roberts wouldn’t leave a girl hanging. That bastard would get what was coming to him, and I couldn’t wait to see it happen. In the meantime, there are delightful, gentlemanly cowboys to swoon over, the tough but feminine gals they fall for, and one very talented horse who steals the show.

This was my first time trying Nora Roberts in audio, and I highly recommend it, with one caveat: the family only has about three or four ideas as far as names for their children, and they just keep using those names over and over, generation after generation. Thus you get multiple characters (I counted at least three) named Rory, some characters for whom Bodine is a last name and another for whom it’s a first name, etc. It’s confusing, but if you focus up a little bit when each character is introduced, you’ll be fine.

As an aside, I never thought I’d find a barfight sexy, but Nora Roberts knows there’s something deeply attractive about righteous anger. Right on, girl.
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It's been a long time since I read a Nora Roberts book. I have no excuses as to why, just too many books to read I suppose. Once I started COME SUNDOWN I was kicking myself for waiting so long to revisit one of my longtime favorite authors.



COME SUNDOWN is a stand alone which is rare nowadays so no long term commitment! The story starts in 1991. Alice Bodine ran away to Hollywood a few years ago and after a few postcards, her family never heard from her again. That was twenty five years ago and her family doesn't really talk about her. It's too painful and too much for her Momma to talk about. But not a day goes by when her mom doesn't think about her.



COME SUNDOWN is written outlining two different times in the Bodine family. The past and the present. Once I started reading, it was hard to put this heart pounding story down. Alice Bodine ran away from Montana in 1989 and three years later, she is making her way home. She never makes it because she takes a ride from a stranger and life as she knew it is now over. What she endures at the hands of this monster broke my heart over and over again.



In the present day, you meet Bodine Longbow who runs the Bodine resort. She is always busy and always on the go, but always has time for her friends and employees. She had a child hood crush on Callen Skinner but that was years ago. He moved away years ago to go to California as well. Well, guess who is back at the ranch/resort? That's right, Callen! When two young women are found dead, his arch enemy from when he was a kid thinks right away that Cal is the suspect! Oh his accuser is also a deputy! Oh yeah, it doesn't get any better than that right?



COME SUNDOWN is filled with love, patience, healing, and just the right amount of suspense. Without giving the whole story away, Alice comes back after 26 years and her family rallies around her to help her heal. You can't even begin to imagine all that she went through and wonder if her mind can ever begin to heal. Your heart will break over and over again for Alice and all that she dealt with from the man she called Sir. Hold on to your seats my reading friends........this is one hell of a wild ride!
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On a cold, snowy day in 1991 Alice Bodine decided to return home, after upping and leaving three years earlier. Making a decision between cutting across the wildness in the snow, or going the longer way round, Alice decided to stick to the road, which seemed like the safer option of the two. How wrong could Alice have been?

Back in present-day Montana, Bodine Longbow (Alice’s niece), is the manager of her family’s, four-generation run holiday ranch. She is hard-working and has little time for herself. So when an ex-lover, Callum, comes back into her life, taking up work on the ranch, she decides she doesn’t have time for a relationships.

At the same time as Callum re-appears, women start being murdered. Is this just a coincidence or is Callum involved? Events take an even darker twist when Alice suddenly makes an appearance in a distressed state, 25 years after she disappeared.

Firstly time for a confession. Although I have known about Nora Robert’s work for a long time, this is the first book that I have read by her, and I can assure you, it won’t be the last.

This book is dark, sinister at times. There are some brutal scenes, and horrifying events, especially regarding Alice, who has been kept as a slave/baby-maker for the last 25 years, repeatedly battered, and raped by her captor.

We as readers are taken back and forth between Alice’s horrific world and present-day Montana. The characters, and there are quite a few of them, are all well thought out, and wonderfully-constructed. The family has such a strong bond between them, that it’s hard not to like each and everyone of them.

There are some lighter, more at ease scenes, including a few romances and fun events occurring between the family members, so it’s not all heart-wrenching.

I love a good book that absorbs me into the plot and hooks me to the page, gets my pulse racing, and my emotions in a tither. This book did all of those things.

Ms. Roberts keeps us guessing as to what is going to happen next. With plenty of twists, turns and mystery, this book is a definite 2017 must-read.
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4.5 stars. All I can say is Nora Roberts does it again with Come Sundown. There is mystery and crime, strong women, a beautiful ranch and resort in Montana, family and friends, romance - all of which combine into making a downright good read.

Bodine - the heroine is a strong, feisty woman and boss, she runs the resort side of the family business really well. She comes from a strong line of women - there's Miss Fancy her great grandmother of 89 years, Cora her grandmother and Maureen her mother. And don't think Miss Fancy sits all day in a rocking chair, don't offend her with that. She can still ride out when she wants over the ranch. One of the laughs I got from this book was a tee shirt she turned out in one time with a really apt and clever slogan on the front. Not going to spoil it for you though, you just need to come across it.

There is darkness in this novel, Bodine's Aunt Alice went missing, she was a little of the black sheep of the family and had left home to do her thing. However she is taken hostage by a very bad guy and lost to the family. Bodine and her two brothers have never met her or seen her. At times we get the viewpoint of this evil, ugly man and for some that could be off putting. But so far one thing I can say is, Nora Roberts never lets the bad guy win - so hang in there.

These dark spots are juxtaposed against family, life on the ranch and resort. Family bonds are so strong and when Callen rides in on his amazing horse life gets even better. He is a long time friend of Bodine's brother Chase, returning to his place of birth after time in Hollywood training horses. Soon he is very much involved in life on the ranch and resort. And dang it. That horse of his, there is something magical about it.

I love the title of this book and how it relates to the story, won't give it away, but its perfect. At times during the reading I shied away from the ugly, caught my breath at the very emotional points and chuckled at some of the humour that sprang out in places.
Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31415529-come-sundown

A Painted House by John Grisham

A Painted House by John Grisham


4.21  ·  Rating details ·  94,731 Ratings  ·  5,358 Reviews
A Painted House by John Grisham download or read online for free
A Painted House by John Grisham
Until that September of 1952, Luke Chandler had never kept a secret or told a single lie. But in the long, hot summer of his seventh year, two groups of migrant workers — and two very dangerous men — came through the Arkansas Delta to work the Chandler cotton farm. And suddenly mysteries are flooding Luke’s world.

A brutal murder leaves the town seething in gossip and suspicion. A beautiful young woman ignites forbidden passions. A fatherless baby is born ... and someone has begun furtively painting the bare clapboards of the Chandler farmhouse, slowly, painstakingly, bathing the run-down structure in gleaming white. And as young Luke watches the world around him, he unravels secrets that could shatter lives — and change his family and his town forever....





Reviews


I learned that John Grisham should write more books in this genre because this is his best work....forget all those clients, partners, pelicans. 
One night, with a bunch of old friends in an apartment above Times Square, we tuned in to tv before turning in and The Bill Moyers Report was being aired; his guest was John Grisham. From his first responses, it was obvious that he possessed "gravitas" beyond his public persona.
Grisham grew up in Arkansas, the son of a cotton farmer, and went on to Law School but swiftly left that field of endeavor. He was a born story teller and has used the law background to great advantage. The next week I read "The Partner" which was clever and classy and all those best-seller adjectives. However, as I started reading "The Painted House" it was a most touching, true and arresting book that deserves the most serious consideration. Not just a "coming of age" story, this book deals with so many universal themes that no one could read it without making contact. It is a beautiful book. Put it on your bedside table pile.
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For being from John Grisham, this was such a great book! 
For a long time I've enjoyed his legal thrillers, but after a while I suspected each book would be exactly the same as the last with the only difference being the plot. Granted that's one of the reasons I liked his novels, because I could trust they would be consistently good. When this book first came out I couldn't wait to read it and I fell in love with his ability to tell a heartfelt, meaningful story having nothing to do with law. I liked this book so much that I even recorded the Hallmark channel original that was made of it!
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Great read! therapeutic,compelling,enjoyable and a moving story...determination,twists and turns to hold your interest to the end..well written
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I was wary when this book came out - doubting Grisham could pull off historical fiction. 
Well he absolutely nailed it. It’s obvious Grisham drew from his personal experiences growing up in rural Arkansas. This is a heart-wrenching story of an impoverished farming community. It’s got it all, destitute share-croppers, migrant farm workers, a sweet young boy who lives for baseball, a devastating flood and a mentally unhinged murderer thrown in for good measure.
I wonder if Grisham had written this under a pseudonym if it would have been taken more seriously. Who knows, even ranked as one of the great American novels - it was that good.
Plus it inspired me to getting around to giving my house a fresh coat of paint.
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This is not the usual John Grisham fare, but instead is a beautiful story told with great warmth and compassion. I have always enjoyed Grisham's books as good airplane reads--but never expected that he would write a book that I would list as one of my all-time favorites.
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"The hill people and the Mexicans arrived on the same day. It was a Wednesday, early in September 1952. The Cardinals were five games behind the Dodgers with three weeks to go, and the season looked hopeless. The cotton, however, was waist-high to my father, over my head, and he and my grandfather could be heard before supper whispering words that were seldom heard. It could be a `good crop.'"

This was a really pleasant surprise. When asked about John Grisham, most of us immediately think of his wide catalogue of legal thrillers and their film adaptations. A Painted House is nothing like his other work (I admit to having read only one title - The Firm - a fact that I intend to change in due time) because it in no way relates to his traditional formula of legal thrilers. There is not a single lawyer in A Painted House; the best we get is a single policeman, because this story is set in rural Arkansas in 1952.

The novel is narrated in first person by a certain Luke Chandler, who also happens to be seven year old. The Chandler family are cotton farmers, and the book chronicles their struggles from late summer to early fall, when they harvest their crop with the help of Mexicans And Hill People. Luke will spend many hours picking cotton and living a boy's life; he'll hear things he shouldn't hear and see things he shouldn't see. These experiences will change him, as he'll have to grow up and face the dangers of adult life. But there will be many pleasant moments, too; the carniva;, first crush and many sweets from the stores in town. The people on farms have to be tough, or they won't survive. We experience their simple joys like listening to a baseball broadcast, but we also experience their despair with difficult harvest, their variness of people from other regions, the town gossip and the ever present preachers.

This book is the testament to Grisham's ability to tell a meaningful, sweet story that has nothing to do with the law. As he himself grew up in Arkansas, the novel has a certain autobiographical feel to it, and many events might have occured to the 7 year old John as well (I think many of them dealt with snakes). Grisham's narrator's voice is precocious but not offensive; easy to read and very desriptive.
This is not a coutroom drama, but the book is just as suspenseful, if not even more; the events and the characters are well drawn and memorable, and we only wish we could spend more time with them. This is a very sweet coming of age story, dealing with universal themes, which is also a real delight to get immersed in. Forget the chambers, appeals and clients; check in at the Painted House.
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I seldom give five stars; they must be earned by the author's offerings. 
This book supplied all the necessary plot ingredients to satisfy the curiosities of this avid, mature reader. (No desire to see the movie, it could not possibly do this story justice.) Its not for the squeamish or sheltered reading audience. A realistic slice of life, poor/destitute Arkansas folks during the early Fifties, well-described and believable.
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Such a well-written, engaging book. As the back cover suggests, A Painted House reminded me of books like To Kill a Mockingbird and Huck Finn. 
A boy from Arkansas (who loves the Cardinals and baseball and dreams of moving to St. Louis, all pluses in my book) grows up living the hard life on a cotton farm in the 50s. The book paints a vivid picture of what that common life might be like, with coming of age stories, family drama, and interpersonal conflicts, all while throwing in the less common intrigues of murders and a natural disaster. The relationships between ethnic groups, the role of the church, the pace of a 50s farm life, the ties of family, the importance of the paint on your house and its contrast to disasters, and finally the ambiguity of realized dreams... all highlights from a worthy one day read of 480 pages.

I'd never read a Grisham book before, but when I realized he wrote books that didn't involve lawyers, I decided to check this one out. Not disappointed. One of my favorite reads of the year.
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I don't normally read Grisham, he's a great writer just not my typical genre. This, however, was an awesome story. I loved the whole experience of entering the world of Luke Chandler in 1951. It was a tremendously entertaining story. Well written, with so much detail and humor, realistic voices and a simpler time that was somehow made to be full of drama and suspense. I felt this was one of the best stories I can recall written from this era and brought so fully into focus.

Luke Chandler, 7 years old, lives in Black Oak Arkansas with his Mom and Dad, Gran and Pappy on a cotton farm. The cotton is their world. They are farmers, first and foremost and the cotton is their master.
When the story begins, it is harvesting time. The summer crop has been good, the weather has been favorable and the Chandlers are occupied with the task of finding "hill people" and Mexicans to hire to help harvest the cotton.
They will pay them to help pick the cotton and in return they will share their lives for the next two months. The decisions made at the beginning of the harvest turn out to have irrevocable consequences for the Chandlers, the Sprools- the "hill people', and the people of Black Oak.
These decisions and their resulting effects are unspooled steadily and with increasing tension as the story progresses in a wonderfully mesmerizing tapestry, full of color and vibrancy.
In essence, I was enthralled by this story. It was a journey to another place and time, one I was unfamiliar with, but was brought to feel right at home in. Read it, it's a pleasure.
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I read this some time ago. I love the story. The setting is in the 50s, a much simpler time and yet a much more difficult time. The story is told through the eyes of an eight-year-old. I'm not sure, but I understand the story is based on John Grisham's childhood.

This is not a fast pace book. It is so much more. John Grisham told a very heart moving tale of the hard times as a farmer through the eyes of a young boy. The boy had me laughing at times with some of his silly pranks. It was a time that you didn't dare get caught using a cuss word, although the young boy would from time to time sneak off and practice curse words that his older brother had taught him.

The story took you to a place and time where folks lived off the land and the hardships that each day brought. I love this story. Great read and there were times you laugh and times you sat on the edge of your seat. There are surprises that keep you turning the pages. This book is a wonderful read for any age.
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This is, so far as I know, Grisham's second or third departure from his legal thrillers. I have read several of his previous works and I found this novel to be a refreshing change, for the writer.
Until that September of 1952, Luke Chandler had never kept a secret or told a single lie. But in the long, hot summer of his seventh year, two groups of migrant workers—and two very dangerous men—came through the Arkansas Delta to work the Chandler cotton farm. And suddenly mysteries are flooding Luke’s world. A brutal murder leaves the town seething in gossip and suspicion. A beautiful young woman ignites forbidden passions. A fatherless baby is born. And someone has begun furtively painting the bare clapboards of the Chandler farmhouse, slowly, painstakingly, bathing the run-down structure in gleaming white. And as young Luke watches the world around him, he unravels secrets that could shatter lives—and change his family and his town forever
Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5360.A_Painted_House