Disclaimer 1: I didn’t  set out to do a study of bondage, but the theme emerged in every book of my most recent reading spree.

 

Title: Fifty Shades Trilogy Bundle: Fifty Shades of Grey; Fifty Shades Darker; Fifty Shades Freed (Vintage)

Author: E. L. James

Synopsis: A rich control-freak falls for an innocent college graduate who looks like his delinquent mother; glitz and glamor, high-speed chases, and deviant copulation ensues.

Why Did I Read This?  Everybody else was doing it?  I wasn’t planning to succumb to peer-pressure, but when I found the first book in the series at the Goodwill I decided to see what all the fuss was about.  As for why I read the second and third books, well there’s no good excuse.  I guess once you jump off the bridge with your friends  you can’t just stop falling.

Was it Worth It? The series may be best enjoyed if you check your intellect at the cover. On a positive note, the improbable scenarios are a diversion from mundane life. The shallow characters and redundant inner and outer dialogue made it a super quick read. The element  of “how much weirder can this possibly get?” and “how will this ever be justified?” may keep you reading.

You May Like This If You Liked:  The Twilight Saga Complete Collection

Title: Island Beneath the Sea: A Novel (P.S.)

Author: Isabel Allende

Synopsis: The life of a slave, Zarite, is portrayed from her girlhood on the island of Saint-Dominque to the “freedom” she finds in New Orleans.

Why Did I Read This? Isabel Allende is a master storyteller who never fails to bring history to life in her brilliant, complex tales. My worldview widens every time I read her work.

What I Loved About This Book:   The characters were layered and multidimensional. I admired Zarite’s quiet, persistent dignity and the rich duplicity in her relationship with her Master and their children.  The history of Haiti was fascinating, as was the view of New Orleans in the early 1800s.

What I Didn’t Love: The brutal bits were hard to stomach.

You May Like This If You Liked: Daughter of Fortune

Title: Burn: An Anna Pigeon Novel

Author: Nevada Barr

Why Did I Read This? Many years ago I joined a mystery readers’ book club at Bartlett Books.  I wasn’t particularly fond of mysteries, but I was fond of cake and I was always looking for an excuse to eat it regularly.  Bartlett Books had the BEST Italian cream cake in all the realm and all their books smelled of coffee.  I convinced my sister to join the club too. She provided my ride to the cake place and served as a social buffer.  I was the youngest member of this book club by at least a decade or three, and her presence allowed me to eat my cake in relative peace. While I always read the book selections, I rarely enjoyed them and I never actually spoke to anyone in the club about them, except my sis. I dismissed most of the books we read as “Scooby-Doo mysteries.”  There were a few notable exceptions, particularly Nevada Barr’s  Track of the Cat (Anna Pigeon Mysteries Book 1), which I loved. I identified with Park Ranger Anna Pigeon, who preferred the company of animals to people.  Anna was gritty and tough and she had a deep reverence for nature.  The other clubers thought Anna too “dark” and “serious,”  which is exactly why I liked her. Over the years I’ve followed the series, but I got behind at some point. Burn has been sitting on my bookshelf unread for about 4 years, so I finally decided to read it.

Just Let Me Say:  Barr went over the deep end of darkness here.  The content was extremely disturbing.  The plot revolves around a child sex-slave and skin-trade industry in New Orleans. Barr zooms in for a horrifying close-up view of a problem that many would prefer to ignore. The details were as repulsive as one might expect from the topic.  In the midst of all that, with smoke, mirrors, and voodoo, she created a huge brilliant plot twist that I never saw coming.   And to confuse matters even more she peppers in a liberal dose of strange  humor  in the most violent scenes. There were several times I had to put the book down and wonder:  what the hell?  

Who Would I NOT Recommend This To? This is definitely not a mystery for the faint of heart or the lovers of Scooby-Doo mysteries or “cozies”.  Based on the reviews of her regular readers on amazon.com, it appears that this is not a mystery for most of Barr’s regular readers either.  All that said, I went out and bought two more books in the series after I finished it.

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Disclaimer 2: I’m an Amazon Affiliate, which means 1.) I can use their book cover images in my posts without having to worry about them suing me, and 2.) if you use one of the links I provide in the blog to purchase the book on amazon.com I’ll get like a nickel or something.  I’m disclosing this so you will be aware that if you click on a book link, our electronic “footprints” will be walking together toward amazon.

 

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