“Closing the door, you leave the world behind.”

you-will-know-me

 

Sometimes a good mystery leaves you guessing until the very end. Sometimes you think you have it all figured out but you find out you didn’t know anything. While reading You Will Know Me by Megan Abbot, I figured out pretty early on where the book was going. The interesting part was watching the protagonist come to that conclusion.

Katie and Eric Knox are the proud, dedicated parents of gymnastic prodigy Devon. She is the star of their local gymnastics gym and is expected to become an elite, Olympic level athlete. Their local gym community has pinned a lot of their hopes and dreams, along with the gym’s future success on Devon. When a member of their team is killed, everything is thrown into disarray. The story is told through Katie, Devon’s mom. As the mysterious death is investigated, many secrets come to light and Katie is forced to rethink everything she knows about the people who are closest to her.

This book is such a compelling fast read and the first one I’ve read by Megan Abbot. After enjoying this one so thoroughly, I’ll be moving her bumping her other books up in my TBR pile.

School’s out. Thank goodness!

jeanbrodie

I really wanted to like this book more based on the description and the reviews. But overall the book left me feeling rather flat and I was glad to move on to a more compelling story. The story follows the lives of Jean Brodie, a teacher in a private girls school and her six students known as “The Brodie Set” whom Miss Brodie mentors through their school years.

Miss Brodie seems like a pretty lousy teacher from the outset and eschews things like math and science lessons for lecturing the girls about what she considers “classical learning” which mostly consist her telling them about her travels or the great love of her life who was killed in The Great War (the book takes place in the 1930 in Scotland). Miss Brodie is manipulative, a fan of Mussolini and carries on an affair with the schools music teacher. None of her students are particularly compelling. It seems the reason Miss Brodie chose them is that they were easily led.

Given the high praise for this novel I almost wonder if I missed something. It really didn’t appeal to me all that much and I was glad that the book was only a brief 120 pages.

“Quit these pretentious things and just punch the clock”

the-age-of-innocence

 

Perhaps my introverted nature is the reason that I so enjoy books where people are polite on the surface but all full of emotions underneath. I also like stories where peoples desires are constantly being repressed by societal constraints. I read Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth and loved it even though the end is incredibly depressing. The Age on Innocence has similar themes but without the dark ending.

Newland Archer is a young gentleman from one of the best families in New York society in the late 19th century. He is engaged to the equally well-bred May Welland. He’s extremely happy with how his life is going until he meets his wife’s cousin, the Countess Ellen Olenska who has fled a bad marriage in Europe (scandalous!). Having spent a great deal of her life in Europe, Ellen is unfamiliar with New York Society many social rules and is unlike any woman Newland has ever met. He begins to question the institutions and rules he once thought were so important and becomes more and more determined to be with Countess Olenska.

In lesser hands, this book would simply be a couple hundred pages of back and forth between two people saying “But I WANT to,” and “But we CAN’T,” However Wharton is a master of unrequited desire. The interactions between Ellen and Newland are minimal but each one is full of meaning. Additionally, the character of May Welland is more than just a silly society girl to be a foil for the two lovers. This book is a wonderful little slice of New York Society in the 1870s and the unrequited love it spawned.

“Color our world blackened”

the-final-empire

 

My honest rating would be more like 3.5 but since I liked the book enough to read the next one in the series, I bumped it up to 4. Brandon Sanderson does a lot of things really well. He spins a hell of an epic yarn and he writes great fight and battle scenes. However I often find his characters fall a little flat for me, which I’ll address later in the review. Overall, the first book in the Mistborn series was engaging and fun and left some interesting plot points that hopefully get addressed in the next book.

The Lord Ruler has presided over The Final Empire for centuries. Beneath him are varying degrees of nobles and beneath them, the ska who are a permanent underclass said to be physically and mentally deficient though it becomes clear very early on that this is not the case. There’s a pretty obvious parallel to American slavery here. Kelsier, a former thief has become a legend by being the only ska sentenced to work in the Pits of Hasthin and escape with his life. He returns to the capital city with newly acquired powers of Allomancy, the power to use magic by burning ingested metals. He reunites with his former thieving crew and Vin a young vagrant with remarkable Allomantic powers with a plan to overthrow The Final Empire and The Lord Ruler. The plan is outrageous and unthinkable but his crew follows him along resulting in an engaging story.

My one quibble with this book, and Sanderson in general is that he can beat you over the head with his characters’ defining traits. Vin is MISTRUSTFUL. Kelsier is IRREVERENT. They are by no means one note but his books might be a hundred or so pages shorter if people didn’t spend so much time dwelling over their natures. Overall though, this and his Stormlight Archive are worthwhile reads. He creates amazing worlds and stories.