Book Reviews

56. Famous Writer's School by Steven Carter - Told in letter form, this novel is actually a novel within a novel, a (how not to write) writer's guide, and a tiny bit psychological thriller/romance. That seems like a lot, but Carter fits it all together in the story of Wendell Newton's correspondence writing class. The stories of three students are told in three distinct styles, and through Walter's comments on his student's work, Carter shows how an author can twist, change and manipulate the same story into several different versions. Maybe Wendell's a better writer than he gives himself credit for being.

57. In The Woods by Tana French - A double mystery for police detective Rob Ryan. A young girl is murdered and left where she can't be missed in the very same area where Ryan was the lone survivor of a bloody crime when he was twelve years old. He was never any help in determining what happened to his two best friends, but working this crime helps jar a few memories. The relationship complications between Ryan and his partner are silly and unoriginal, but the families of all the murder victims make for a lot of very good back stories. This book is more interesting than your average police procedural, and far more realistic (if unsatisfying) in the ending.

58. How To Talk To A Widower by Jonathan Tropper - Chick lit written by a guy about a guy - who knew it could be so good? Certainly not me, and now I'm really looking forward to reading some of Tropper's other books. This one is about a twenty-nine year old coping with the loss of his wife. That includes taking care of a sixteen year old step son that it would be easier to be a friend to than father and getting back into the dating and sex routine. In the meantime, he's got a sister who's starting a marriage, a twin sister trying to end one, and a mother who's self medicating her way through her own tragedy. What I enjoyed most about this book was that I know people that are like many of these characters, but they're not nearly as fun.

59. Summer Knight: Book Four of the Dresden FIles by Jim Butcher - Definitely the most convoluted of this series that I've read so far, I'm still not quite sure who was on who's side in this book. However, the characters and the canon keep getting better and Chicago is still a factor in the story, and that'll keep me reading these books until the very end.

60. In Awe by Scott Heim - This is a dark, bleak, sad, heavy story of friendship between three outsiders in contemporary rural Kansas. Scott Heim's first book was Mysterious Skin, and somehow Heim has found a way to go to an even blacker place of love and hate than he did the first time around. The sense of place is amazing (I don't think there's a color or smell or sound that Heim can't bring to life with his words) and the characters are laid wide open, sometimes telling their own stories, sometimes through stories that they write down for Boris, a teenage boy with a doomed crush, to use for a writing contest. The other characters, Harriet, a widow not doing a very good job coping with the recent death of her only son; and Sarah, a close friend of the dead son and now a sort of mentor to Boris, both enable each other and Boris in a journey that can't end well. If this all sounds too depressing for you to read, it probably is.

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