Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Follow up on Summer Reading List---Overseas


Beatriz Williams
Putnam Adult
May 10, 2012

I kicked off my Summer Reading season this Memorial Day with one of the hottest debut books so far this year, Overseas by Beatriz Williams. Kate Wilson is an 20-something investment banker in New York. Somewhat bookish and reserved, she hasn't even had a boyfriend since college. This is not because she is unattractive, but because of her dedication to her career and some bad experiences with men. So what is it about her that so attracts Julian Laurence, legendary founder and manager of the most successful hedge fund in the trade? Julian appeared in New York about a decade earlier and built an empire worth billions. Very private, extraordinarily handsome and cultured, Julian with his British accent is the talk of the town but he is seldom seen in society.

Kate and Julian meet when her firm presents a deal to Julian and they begin a flirtation conducted primarily through text message. Almost immediately Julian breaks it off citing conflict of interest concerns. Even though the deal falls through Kate does not hear from him for several months until one evening she is running through Central Park and Julian saves her from a mugger. They immediately embark on a whirlwind affair which changes Kate's life completely. Not only is her own career in shambles, but it becomes clear that someone would like to destroy them both. Kate often feels that Julian's old-fashioned protective notions are over the top and asks why Julian is so secretive about his background and life before coming to New York.

I wanted to like Overseas much more than I actually did. It is no secret that time-travel is one of the major elements of Overseas and I don't object to that. In fact, I'm a big fan of the Outlander series and liked The Time Traveler's Wife very much. Julian just doesn't seem real to me- too handsome, too rich, too honorable- too everything in fact. Kate and he seemingly have the same argument multiple times over his secretiveness and over-protectiveness. He has his reasons of course, and those reasons are explained at the end. The mechanism for the time-travel is demonstrated but not really explained. I also couldn't get my head around the sequence of events between Amiens and New York in Kate's journey. I could forgive all that if my own emotions were more engaged.

There were things that I liked about Overseas. Beatriz Williams has storytelling skills that kept me engaged throughout the book. It never occurred to me to stop reading because I had no idea who was behind the plot against Kate and Julian. I just never felt very emotionally engaged and to me that is a big minus. I like fantasy and romance but Overseas didn't deliver for me.

Rating- A very shaky 3 stars

Friday, May 25, 2012

My Summer Reading List......so far

Ah summer. The living is easy and the publishers bring out the books that they hope will be be Summer Blockbusters. Often over-sized escapist reading to tempt the vacationer and those who have an easier work pace for a short few months. Not only that, most people seem to like to read for sheer enjoyment. So this is the list (so far) of the books I want to read this summer.

Beatriz Williams
Putnam Adult
May 10, 2012

There has been a lot of buzz about this debut novel by Beatriz Williams and I plan to kick off the Memorial Day weekend by at least starting it. It appears to be a combination of mystery, romance and time-travel between WWI and present day New York City. Both critical and reader response has been very good. It seems like the perfect summer read, called "delicious" by the cover blurbs and decidedly not a "Fifty Shades of Grey" clone.

Shadow of Night
Deborah Harkness
Penguin Group
July 10, 2012

Shadow of Night is the follow-up to one of last summer's biggest book successes, A Discovery of Witches, Book 1 of the All Souls Trilogy. It features Oxford Scholar Diana Bishop and vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont. Their discovery of an enchanted manuscript known as Ashmole 782 catapulted them into a supernatural battle. The cliff-hanger ending of A Discovery of Witches sent them to Elizabethan England, a world of spies and the mysterious School of Night. While Elizabeth and Matthew are  consorting with such personages as Sir Walter Raleigh and Chistopher Marlowe the mystery of Ashmole 782 continues. While I thought A Discovery of Witches could have done with some judicious editing the story caught me in it's magic.

Cliff Walk: A Liam Mulligan Novel
Bruce DeSilva
May 22, 2012

Cliff Walk is the second Liam Mulligan novel after Rogue Island, winner of the Edgar Award for Best First Novel. Liam is back at work in Providence, RI at a dying newspaper as an investigative reporter. He manages to get under the establishment's skin again with his reports on legalized prostitution in RI and the governor taking bribes to keep it that way. When a child's severed arm turns up in a landfill and the body of an internet pornographer is found on the rocks at Cliff Walk Liam thinks there may be connections to the sex industry. As anyone knows who read Rogue Island, nothing can stop Liam on the trail of a story. Bruce DeSilva gives Liam a unique and gritty "voice" not to be missed. As a former reporter himself, he knows the territory.


The Janus Affair: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel
Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine
Harper Voyager
May 29, 2012

For sheer fun, nothing can beat "steampunk" and The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novels. Agents Eliza Braun and Wellington Books hold the fate of England in their hands as they investigate several unexplained disappearances. Ingenious Archivist Books and beautiful, intrepid Eliza Braun are up against a fiendishly clever adversary but are equal to the task. Books and Braun are sort of a Victorian "Avengers" (the television series, not the Marvel Comics) with steam driven modern wonders. Evildoers beware, retribution is at hand!

More to come, I'm sure!