The Woman in Cabin 10

The Woman in Cabin 10The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Yes, my rating is probably quite generous. While I agree with the points of reviewers who didn’t like the book, I found it mostly quite entertaining. Yes, it got repetitious at times. Yes, Laura (Lo) is a pretty self-absorbed, neurotic, mess, but I still liked her, and empathized with her predicament. Yes, there were times the plot bordered on the absurd, but it moved along and kept me guessing. We see almost everything through Lo’s eyes, so none of the other passengers were fleshed out very much, except perhaps for Ben, her ex-boyfriend. The author goes to great lengths to make Lo an unreliable narrator, and yet, I never had any doubt that what she thought she had heard and observed was true. The problem was that everyone around her was determined to view her as unreliable. Is there a woman alive who hasn’t experienced not being taken seriously? Especially a young woman, trying to break into a career? And while this book is called a suspenseful thriller, it also had elements of humor – Lo’s incessant self-deprecation, the pretentions of the wealthy passengers, the overeager staff of the cruise ship, and the almost slapstick escape sequence. All in all it would make a great movie, and CBS Films has already acquired the rights and hired a script writer.

Book description: Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

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At the Water’s Edge

At the Water's EdgeAt the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I am just not sure what this book wanted to be. Historical fiction? A love story? A story about Scotland, its culture and superstitions? It didn’t really do any of them very well. I pretty much hated all the characters until Maddie finally started to WAKE UP in the last third of the book. Rich, privileged Americans abroad during wartime and oblivious to the lives of the people around them. The love story angle kind of came out of nowhere. Throw in some hot sex and – no, it just wasn’t believable. The ending was satisfying (just) but utterly predictable. Over all I was rather disappointed with this book, so three stars is maybe generous. It wasn’t helped by a narrator whose affected British accent really made me cringe. Or laugh. I couldn’t decide. They all sounded vaguely Irish. Most definitely NOT Scottish. Okay, I’m changing my rating to a 2. The premise sounded really interesting. I love Scotland, and the idea of Americans hunting for the Loch Ness monster. And a good love story. The author has an okay rough draft here, but it should have been so much more. It might have worked better as a love story between Ellis and Hugh. They seemed so obviously gay, at least Hugh was…. but it was never developed. Or develop Maddie more. She was just so superficial for most of the book. Or develop the monster more. It, too, was a bit too ambiguous. The potential is there. It could make a really good TV movie with the right actors.

Book description: After disgracing themselves at a high society New Year’s Eve party in Philadelphia in 1944, Madeline Hyde and her husband, Ellis, are cut off financially by his father, a former army colonel who is already ashamed of his son’s inability to serve in the war. When Ellis and his best friend, Hank, decide that the only way to regain the Colonel’s favor is to succeed where the Colonel very publicly failed—by hunting down the famous Loch Ness monster—Maddie reluctantly follows them across the Atlantic, leaving her sheltered world behind. The trio find themselves in a remote village in the Scottish Highlands, where the locals have nothing but contempt for the privileged interlopers. Maddie is left on her own at the isolated inn, where food is rationed, fuel is scarce, and a knock from the postman can bring tragic news. Yet she finds herself falling in love with the stark beauty and subtle magic of the Scottish countryside. Gradually she comes to know the villagers, and the friendships she forms with two young women open her up to a larger world than she knew existed. Maddie begins to see that nothing is as it first appears: the values she holds dear prove unsustainable, and monsters lurk where they are least expected.

A Fall of Marigolds

A Fall of MarigoldsA Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars rounded up to 4. I liked the overall plot – two women, two tragedies a century apart, lots of parallels between the two, enough psychological drama to make it interesting, and the scarf to tie the two together. My problem with books like this, similar to At the Water’s Edge which I happened to finish the same day, is that it isn’t quite historical fiction – there just isn’t enough meat to it. The dual time frame is a plot device, nothing more. And it isn’t quite a love story. Basically it is about love, and loss, and moving on. The Welsh character could have been any nationality – it is inconsequential to the story. But since I am the “Welsh” Bookworm, I will add a little more about that. Andrew Gwynn and his brother Nigel: being American myself I can’t speak with any certainty, but those are not common Welsh forenames and especially for the turn of the century. The way the characters are written they are very English – despite some doubt about whether or not Andrew speaks English when we first meet him. There is also an inscription to his sons written by the father (Alistair Henry Gwynn) in the pattern book given to Andrew written in English. I certainly would have expected it to be in Welsh. But then Clara wouldn’t have been able to read it. Minor points certainly, and didn’t really detract from my enjoyment of the story.

So bottom line, a light, fluffy read, (despite the nature of the tragedies that frame the story.) A bit too “romancy” and not enough historical details to be a 5-star read. A good summer beach read.

Book decription: September 1911. On Ellis Island in New York Harbor, nurse Clara Wood cannot face returning to Manhattan, where the man she loved fell to his death in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Then, while caring for a fevered immigrant whose own loss mirrors hers, she becomes intrigued by a name embroidered onto the scarf he carries…and finds herself caught in a dilemma that compels her to confront the truth about the assumptions she’s made. Will what she learns devastate her or free her?

September 2011. On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, widow Taryn Michaels has convinced herself that she is living fully, working in a charming specialty fabric store and raising her daughter alone. Then a long-lost photograph appears in a national magazine, and she is forced to relive the terrible day her husband died in the collapse of the World Trade Towers…the same day a stranger reached out and saved her. Will a chance reconnection and a century-old scarf open Taryn’s eyes to the larger forces at work in her life?

News of the World

News of the WorldNews of the World by Paulette Jiles
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Short and sweet. The ending is never really in doubt – the story is about how they get there. After all the build up, I thought the ending could have been drawn out a bit more. Perhaps I just wanted the book to be longer. The relationship between the elderly widower and the child who will never truly fit in the white world is delightful. Somewhat unwilling to take on the task at first, he discovers that he needs her as much as she needs him.

Book description: It is 1870 and Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. army, the ten-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows. Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and at times dangerous. Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forging a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land. Arriving in San Antonio, the reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember—strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. A respectable man, Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become—in the eyes of the law—a kidnapper himself.