Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Challenges for 2011

So. Reading challenges. Lots and lots of reading challenges planned for 2011, and I'm having so much trouble deciding which ones to sign up for. Naturally, I'd really like to sign up for every one I hear about, but I'm trying to go a little easy on the challenges next year. And, as always, I'm looking for challenges that don't have too many rules and limitations.

To save time, I'm not going to do a separate post for each of the challenges I'm joining, so here's my list so far:

1st in a Series Challenge 2011

1 January - 31 December 2011
Four levels: 3, 6, 12, or 20 books
Host: Katy @ A Few More Pages
See the announcement/sign-up page here.
I have a huge list of "firsts" possibilities that I'll be posting on my challenge blog. But I'll also be playing it safe here, and just signing up at the three-book ("Series Novice") level.

2nds Challenge 2011

1 January - 31 December 2011
Read books that are the second in a series, or by an author you've read only once before.
Four levels: 3, 6, 12, or 20+ books
Host: Katy @ A Few More Pages
See the announcement/sign-up page here.
I participated in the 2nds Challenge a couple of years ago, and enjoyed it a lot. Again, I'm playing it safe and signing up for just three books ("Just a Spoonful").

Alex Cross Reading Challenge

1 September 2010 - 31 August 2011
Read as many Alex Cross mysteries as you want (the books are, in order of publication: Along Came a Spider; Kiss the Girls; Jack & Jill; Cat and Mouse; Pop! Goes the Weasel; Roses Are Red; Violets Are Blue; Four Blind Mice; The Big Bad Wolf; London Bridges; Mary, Mary; Cross; Double Cross; Cross Country; Alex Cross's Trial; I, Alex Cross).
Host: Yvonne @ Socrates Book Reviews
See the announcement/sign-up page here.
I've never read any of the Alex Cross books, but always intended to; so this is a great nudge for me. I'll be starting at the beginning with Along Came a Spider, and then see if I can go on from there.

Mystery and Suspense Challenge 2011

1 January - 31 December 2011
Read a minimum of twelve books, from any of the many sub-genres provided.
Host: Book Chick City
See the announcement/sign-up page here.
This was one of my favorite challenges in 2010, so I'm really looking forward to the 2011 edition. I read a lot of mysteries and thrillers anyway, so this one is a piece of cake.

Off the Shelf Challenge

1 January - 31 December 2011
Choose from books you already own, or that are already on your TBR list.
Seven levels: 5, 15, 30, 50, 75, 75-125, or 125-200 books
Host: Bookish Ardour
See the announcement/sign-up page here.
I really, really need this challenge, so I'm going to be signing up at the 15-book level, even though that may be more than I can really expect to finish. I've got a virtual shelf set up for the challenge, at Shelfari (here).

Vintage Mystery Challenge 2011

1 January - 31 December 2011
The purpose of the challenge is to read mysteries written before 1960.
Five basic levels: 4-6, 7-9, 10-12, 13-15, or 16+ books
Also two other levels/categories: female or male authors
Host: Bev Hankins @ My Readers Block
See the announcement/sign-up page here.
Bev must have read my mind: I was planning to make reading more vintage mysteries one of my New Year's reading resolutions. I'm going to be signing up at the 4-6 book level ("In a Murderous Mood"), and I'll probably concentrate on Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh, but might branch out a bit, too.

What's In a Name 4 Challenge

1 January - 31 December 2011
Six set categories (one book per category)
Host: Beth Fish Reads
See the announcement/sign-up page here.
I thought about doing this one last year, and talked myself out of it. It sort of goes against my rule about rules, since the categories are set for me. But it looks like so much fun, I couldn't resist. Haven't made up my list yet, except for the "Life Stage" category - I'm thinking that will probably be Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler.

P.G. Wodehouse Challenge

1 December 2010 - 31 December 2013
Three categories: Blandings; Jeeves/Wooster; others (I'll probably be reading the Jeeves/Wooster series)
Host: Andrea @ The Little Bookworm
See the announcement/sign-up page here.
Once again, someone seems to be on my wavelength here. I was planning to read some of the Jeeves/Wooster books next year, and this challenge should help keep me on track.

And that's it for now. Of course, there might be more to come later (I'm weak, I tell you, weak). During the year, I'll be posting progress updates on my challenge blog. At least, that's the plan.

Teaser Tuesdays: Pat Conroy's Reading Life

This week my teaser lines come from My Reading Life, by novelist Pat Conroy. In this passage, Conroy is talking about Margaret Mitchell's novel Gone with the Wind, a book he read at an impressionable age (just as I did), and which he says is responsible for his becoming a novelist. The quote comes from an advance copy of the book, so please remember that it may differ in the published version:
Gone with the Wind has many flaws, but it cannot, even now, be easily put down. It still glows and quivers with life. American letters will always be tiptoeing nervously around that room where Scarlett O'Hara dresses for the party at Twelve Oaks as the War Between the States begins to inch its way toward Tara. [p.22]
I remember having a rather heated discussion with my tenth grade English teacher about whether or not Gone with the Wind should be seen as a romance or as "slice of life" realism. I was on the realism side and destined to lose the argument. But I suppose most fourteen-year-old girls have trouble distinguishing reality from romance, even today. Come to think of it, a lot of us older girls have that same problem.

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by mizB at Should Be Reading. If you'd like to read more teasers, or take part yourself, just head on over to her blog.

And please feel free to leave me a link to your Teaser Tuesday post in a comment here.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Booking Through Thursday: Thankful

This week's BTT question has a Thanksgiving theme: What authors and books are you most thankful for?

Well, while I've always loved books and reading, and I'm certainly glad there are so many books out there still waiting for me to discover them, I'm not sure "thankful" is really the word I'd associate with the whole process. But I won't quibble. And since I also love list-making, I'll just share my list of favorite authors from my Library Thing profile page. Here goes:
Edward Albee, Woody Allen, Margery Allingham, Kingsley Amis, Aristophanes, Louis Auchincloss, Jane Austen, Alan Ayckbourn, John Barth, Ann Beattie, Robert Benchley, Jorge Luis Borges, Ray Bradbury, Anita Brookner, Truman Capote, Lewis Carroll, Raymond Chandler, Agatha Christie, Arthur C. Clarke, Noël Coward, Will Cuppy, Len Deighton, Peter De Vries, Colin Dexter, Emily Dickinson, Joan Didion, John Donne, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Daphne Du Maurier, Lawrence Durrell, Edward Eager, Harlan Ellison, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Janet Flanner, E. M. Forster, John Fowles, John Gardner, Edward Gorey, Caroline Graham, Ann Granger, Graham Greene, Dashiell Hammett, Thomas Hardy, Moss Hart, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Robert A. Heinlein, Joseph Heller, Lillian Hellman, Ernest Hemingway, Hermann Hesse, Hazel Holt, A. E. Housman, Shirley Jackson, Henry James, M. R. James, P. D. James, George S. Kaufman, John Keats, Carolyn Keene, Garrison Keillor, Jean Kerr, Milan Kundera, Harper Lee, Doris Lessing, Ira Levin, Elinor Lipman, Penelope Lively, H. P. Lovecraft, Alison Lurie, Ngaio Marsh, W. Somerset Maugham, Larry McMurtry, James A. Michener, Arthur Miller, Steven Millhauser, A. A. Milne, Jan/James Morris, John Mortimer, Iris Murdoch, Vladimir Nabokov, Joyce Carol Oates, Arturo Pérez-Reverte, Jean Plaidy, Edgar Allan Poe, Anthony Powell, Douglas Preston, Barbara Pym, Ruth Rendell, Philip Roth, J. D. Salinger, Dorothy L. Sayers, Rod Serling, Dr. Seuss, William Shakespeare, Robert Silverberg, Clifford D. Simak, Neil Simon, C. P. Snow, Muriel Spark, Elizabeth Taylor, Angela Thirkell, Dylan Thomas, Hunter S. Thompson, James Thurber, Anthony Trollope, Mark Twain, Anne Tyler, John Updike, Kurt Vonnegut, Irving Wallace, Evelyn Waugh, H. G. Wells, Eudora Welty, Patricia Wentworth, T. H. White, Oscar Wilde, Tennessee Williams, Angus Wilson, P. G. Wodehouse, Larry Woiwode, Thomas Wolfe, Tom Wolfe, Virginia Woolf, John Wyndham
How's that? Hmmmm - I see I may have to add a few new ones. Like Carlos Ruiz-Zafon and George Orwell. Oh, and Kate Morton. And Emily Bronte. And Alan Bennett.

This could take a while.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

RIP V: The Wrap-Up

Wow, I am soooo late getting this done. Being on the road for most of November has really slowed down all my blogging activity for the month. But I did want to do a short wrap-up post for the RIP/V Challenge, as it's one of my favorite reading events – something I wait for all year long!

Reading for the RIP Challenge is always fun because it encompasses almost all my favorite genres. This year I did pretty good on the reading part of the challenge, but not so great when it comes to writing reviews of what I read (still working on that). I signed up at the Peril-the-First level (four books), but I actually finished six books. Here's what I read (with links to the few reviews I've done up to now):
  1. The Inheritance. Simon Tolkien [See Review]
  2. Cards on the Table. Agatha Christie [See Review]
  3. The House Next Door. Anne Rivers Siddons [See Review]
  4. Book of Shadows. Alexandra Sokoloff [Review to come]
  5. The Dark Half. Stephen King [Review to come]
  6. We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Shirley Jackson [Review to come]
And I finished everything up by spending Halloween night reading that last book (the Shirley Jackson), and watching The Haunting (the original Robert Wise version from 1963, with Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson and Russ Tamblyn). Had a great, spooky time and drove the hubby crazy.

This year I also took advantage of the new addition to the challenge, Peril on the Screen. I'm not going to review these, but here's my list of films/TV shows watched:
  1. Midsomer Murders: "Sauce for the Goose" (TV series; Episode #807, 2005)
  2. Midsomer Murders: "Midsomer Rhapsody" (TV series; Episode #808, 2005)
  3. Midsomer Murders: "The House in the Woods" (TV series; Episode #901, 2005)
  4. Midsomer Murders: "Dead Letters" (TV series; Episode #902, 2005)
  5. Midsomer Murders: "Vixen's Run" (TV series; Episode # 903, 2005)
  6. Midsomer Murders: "Down Among the Dead Men" (TV series; Episode #904, 2005)
  7. Midsomer Murders: "Death in Chorus" (TV series; Episode #905, 2006)
  8. Midsomer Murders: "Country Matters" (TV series; Episode #906, 2006)
  9. Midsomer Murders: "Last Year's Model" (TV series; Episode #907, 2006)
  10. Inspector Lewis: "Counter Culture Blues" (TV series; 2010)
  11. Inspector Lewis: "The Dead of Winter" (TV series; 2010)
  12. Inspector Lewis: "Dark Matter" (TV series; 2010)
  13. Inspector Lewis: "Your Sudden Death Question" (TV series; 2010)
  14. Inspector Lewis: "Falling Darkness" (TV series; 2010)
  15. Inspector Morse: "Last Bus from Woodstock" (TV series; 1988)
  16. Inspector Morse: "The Settling of the Sun" (TV series; 1988)
  17. Inspector Morse: "Second Time Around" (TV series; 1991)
  18. Blood from the Mummy's Tomb (film; 1972)
  19. The Bourne Supremacy (film; 2004)
  20. The Bourne Ultimatum (film; 2007)
  21. The Brides of Dracula (film; 1960)
  22. The Curse of Frankenstein (film; 1957)
  23. Curse of the Demon (film; 1957)
  24. The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb (film; 1964)
  25. The Dark Half (film; 1993)
  26. Dark Mirror (film; 2007)
  27. Dead of Night (film; 1945)
  28. Dracula, Prince of Darkness (film; 1966)
  29. Five Million Years to Earth (film; 1967)
  30. The Forgotten (film; 2004)
  31. Frankenstein Created Woman (film; 1967)
  32. Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (film; 1969)
  33. The Haunting (film; 1963)
  34. The Mummy's Shroud (film; 1967)
  35. The Revenge of Frankenstein (film; 1958)
  36. Secrets Inside the Walls (film; 2010)
  37. Session 9 (film; 2001)
  38. The Talented Mr. Ripley (film; 1999)
  39. These Are the Damned (film; 1962)
  40. The Uninvited (film; 1944)
  41. X The Unknown (film; 1956)
Gee, just one more and I'd have the perfect number – 42!

I want to say a huge thank you to Carl V. at Stainless Steel Droppings for hosting this again. I don't think I could get through October without it!

Fall Into Reading - Question No. 9

This year's Fall Into Reading Challenge is heading into its last weeks, and I haven't been very good about participating in the weekly questions. I've been reading everybody's answers, but haven't offered up any answers myself yet. So I decided it was time to chime in on this week's topic:
Once you begin a book, do you feel compelled to finish it? Or have you been known to give up in the middle of a book, to walk away from a book that is just too annoying, boring, etc.?
Well, since I've spent a large portion of my life doing editing and proofreading, I have to admit I've read plenty of manuscripts and books I found annoying, boring, confusing, vexing, and downright awful. Such is the editor's lot.

But if we're talking about reading for pleasure, then I never have a problem putting aside a book that's not holding my interest. The old saying about life being too short to read bad books (or drink cheap wine – but that's another story) is something I agree with completely. And even though I try to give each new book a fair chance by reading at least a couple of chapters (the old "first fifty pages" trial, you know), there are some books that I can tell are not for me, right from the opening paragraph. And in those cases, I have absolutely no question about what to do – I just close the book, pick up another one, and read on.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays: The Distant Hours

This week my teaser lines come from Kate Morton's latest novel, The Distant Hours. I've been reading the book for a couple of weeks now, and loving it. This excerpt (a bit more than two lines, as usual - sorry) comes from page 55 of the ARC (page 42 of the published edition), and has our protagonist, Edie Burchill, thinking about her first visit to the mysterious Milderhurst Castle:
...although I'd stumbled upon the village of Milderhurst by accident, there was a rightness to my being there. I'd experienced the same sensation when I first read Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre and Bleak House. As if the story were one I'd already known, that it confirmed something I'd always suspected about the world: that it had sat in my future all along, waiting for me to find it.
I guess you can tell that Edie is a rather bookish type. In fact, at one point she says that she'd like to conduct relationships only on paper. Well, I don't think I'm quite that far gone, but I can definitely understand the impulse.

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by mizB at Should Be Reading. If you'd like to read more teasers, or take part yourself, just head on over to her blog.

And please feel free to leave me a link to your Teaser Tuesday post in a comment here.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Well, this week I'm still reading the same book I've been reading for the past couple of weeks. I have excuses. For one thing, it's a long, long book (but a good one). And for another, I've been traveling for the last two weeks, and just didn't really get a lot of reading time on the trip. I did visit a couple of interesting book stores and picked up quite a few books to bring home with me (more about that later). So the time spent traveling,visiting, and house-hunting wasn't wasted, but it was spent mostly not-reading.
  • This week:

    The book I'm reading this week is Kate Morton's recently-published new novel, The Distant Hours. I'm about halfway through it, and loving it so far. A little frustrating, the way it keeps shifting back and forth between time periods and characters, but I've come to expect that from Morton.

  • Up next:

    I need to finish up Juliet by Anne Fortier, which I started last month but put aside for other things.

    Also have to read that ARC of Charles Elton's Mr. Toppit that I've yet to get around to. So those are next on my list.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. If you want to let the world know what books you're going to be reading this week, head on over to her blog and leave your link. It's also a great way to discover new books and new blogs.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Friday Update

OK, I lied. No update message here. More like "to be continued." We're on the road for a couple of weeks, visiting family and friends in Texas. So blogging is on hold for a few days. But reading is not. On hold, that is. I've got several books in my suitcase, several more loaded on my iPad, and I've already found out about one book fair and several bookstores I want to check out along the way.

So I should be a happy camper.

That is, provided I don't really have to do any camping!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays: Moonlight Mile

Don't know how much time I'll have for reading this week, since we're going on a little trip and I'll be on the road most of the time. So I'm taking my teaser lines from a book I haven't started yet, but one that's on the top of my TBR stack at the moment – Dennis Lehane's new novel Moonlight Mile.

This quote is taken from an advance reading copy of the book, so bear in mind that there might be some changes in the published version. I have no idea who's talking here or who's being talked about, and once again it's a bit more than two sentences (what else is new?).
These days, fifty might be the new forty but in her case it was the new sixty. Her once-strawberry hair was white. The lines in her face were deep enough to hide gravel in. She gave off the air of someone clinging to a wall of soap. [p.22]
Hey, don't sugar-coat it, pal – tell us how you really think she looks!

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by mizB at Should Be Reading. If you'd like to read more teasers, or take part yourself, just head on over to her blog.

And please feel free to leave me a link to your Teaser Tuesday post in a comment here.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Reading Report: The House Next Door

Written by Anne Rivers Siddons
Simon and Schuster, 2007; 356 pages
Originally published 1978

In Anne Rivers Siddons' novel The House Next Door, Colquitt and Walter Kennedy, both thirty-something, are a happily married couple living in an upscale, comfortable suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. Childless by choice, they keep themselves enjoyably busy with their careers and long, lazy weekends relaxing and partying with their neighbors. But then construction of a new home – beautiful but disturbingly avant-garde in design – begins in the empty lot next door, and their easy friendships and relaxed get-togethers are suddenly marred by strange accidents and inexplicable happenings.

Although Colquitt doesn’t want to let herself believe in haunted houses, she can’t ignore the mysterious and violent goings-on next door. The house really does seem to prey on the weaknesses of its succession of inhabitants, relentlessly destroying them and the neighbors who befriend them – driving them to disgrace, madness and death.

The House Next Door is an interesting reworking of the standard haunted house theme. This time the house in question isn't a creepy ancient structure with a history of weird occurrences over the years; it's a brand spanking new place with an out-on-the-edge-of-modern design. And the incidents that drive family after family away from the place could just be seen as tragic coincidences. Is the place really "haunted"? Or is Colquitt simply letting her "sensitive" nature get the better of her?

I discovered this book after stumbling upon the 2006 made-for-TV movie based on it. I wasn't thrilled with the movie itself, but the story got my attention, especially when I found out the book was written by Siddons. I'd always wanted to read something by her, and this seemed like a good place to start – although I gather it's very different from all the rest of her writing. I also wanted to see if the ending had been changed for the film, and I'm glad to say it had – the book's ending is much more frightening and disturbing, if not any more satisfying.

I enjoyed this book a lot, and I'd definitely recommend it to anyone looking for something scary and a little different. I'm not sure I'd go so far as to agree with Stephen King that it's "one of the finest horror novels of the 20th Century" but it's certainly a fun, fast, spooky read.

Awesome Authors Challenge, Fall Into Reading Challenge, RIP/V Challenge

Reading Report: After Claude

Written by Iris Owens
New York Review Books, 2010; 216 pages
Originally published 1973

This review refers to an advance uncorrected proof of the reissued novel.

Description from the publisher:
Harriet has left her boyfriend Claude, “the French rat.” At least that is how she prefers to frame the matter. In fact, after yet one more argument, Claude has just instructed Harriet to move out of his Greenwich Village apartment—not that she has any intention of doing so. To the contrary, she will stay and exact her vengeance—or such is her intention until Claude has her unceremoniously evicted. Still, though moved out, Harriet is not about to move on. Not in any way. Girlfriends circle around to give advice, but Harriet only takes offense, and you can understand why. Because mad and maddening as she may be, Harriet sees past the polite platitudes that everyone else is content to spout and live by. She is an unblinkered, unbuttoned, unrelenting, and above all bitingly funny prophetess of all that is wrong with women’s lives and hearts—until, in a surprise twist, she finds a savior in a dark room at the Chelsea Hotel.
About the Author:
Iris Owens [born 1929] moved from Greenwich Village to Paris at the age of twenty after her first marriage failed. She wrote numerous wildly popular and regularly banned erotic novels for the Traveller's Companion series of Olympia Press under the pseudonym Harriet Daimler. Under her own name, she published After Claude and Hope Diamond Refuses. She died in 2008.

My Thoughts:

Iris Owens' 1973 novel After Claude is an odd little portrait of a woman going off the rails. At times funny, at times very sad, it's a fascinating character study and an interesting early attempt at creating a female anti-hero. It was very well received at the time of its original publication; Owens was hailed as a fresh new voice in the throng of women novelists, and her book was even compared to Erica Jong's Fear of Flying. Understandable, I suppose, because Iris Owens writes like a dream – too bad she wasn't more prolific (I'm not likely to seek out any of the pornographic stuff she wrote under her Harriet Daimler pseudonym).

But while Jong's heroine is just as free-wheeling and libidinous as Owens' Harriet, Fear of Flying is a much richer and more thoughtful book, and its central character much more sympathetic. In the end, there's really not much that's admirable about Harriet – she's profane and profligate, opinionated and egotistical. She claims to be sensitive and caring; in reality she's selfish and dependent. She spends most of the book trying to trick or harangue the various male characters into taking care of her so she won't have to work for her living. And she takes an instantaneous dislike to every female she sees.

All of which makes me almost embarrassed to say I ended up enjoying this book much more than I thought I would when I started it. After the first few pages of Harriet's "mad and maddening" narration, I was almost ready to abandon the book. The experience was a little like being trapped in a dark, messy room and being forced to listen to Joan Rivers standup routines for forty-eight hours without let-up. But listening to Harriet is also like viewing the proverbial train wreck – it's horrendous, and yet you can't look away.

Even though I never really thought of myself as a feminist, I believe I probably would have liked this book a lot more if I'd read it when it first appeared in the early '70s. Back then I would most likely have seen the work as funny, edgy, and iconoclastic. But it hasn't aged well. Or maybe that's just me who hasn't aged well.

I should mention that the advance copy I read lacked the introduction by Emily Prager, which I'd like to take a look at. I do applaud NYRB for their courage in reissuing this work, since it's probably not going to be a huge seller. Worth reading, I think, but definitely not for everyone.

[Note: I received the advance reading copy of this novel free of charge from the publisher, through Library Thing's Early Reviewer program. No other form of compensation was offered or accepted, and no one attempted to influence my opinion of the book.]

Reading Report: The Convent

Written by Panos Karnezis
W.W. Norton and Co., 2010; 212 pages

This review refers to an advance reading copy of the novel.

Description from the publisher:
The crumbling convent of Our Lady of Mercy stands alone in an uninhabited part of the Spanish sierra, hidden on a hill among dense forest. Its inhabitants are devoted to God, to solitude and silence—six women cut off from a world they've chosen to leave behind. This all changes on the day that Mother Superior Maria Ines discovers a suitcase punctured with air holes at the entrance to the retreat: a baby, abandoned to its fate. Is it a miracle? Soon she will find that the baby's arrival has consequences beyond her imagining, and that even in her carefully protected sanctuary she is unable to keep the world, or her past, at bay.

My Thoughts:

The description of Panos Karnezis new novel, The Convent, made me think the book would be right up my street. Even though I'm not really religious (having left my father's Catholicism and my mother's Methodism far behind, and taken up with my husband's heathen Presbyterians years ago), I do for some reason love reading novels about convents. In recent years, I've thoroughly enjoyed Muriel Spark's The Abbess of Crewe, Mark Salzman's Lying Awake, and Sarah Dunant's Sacred Hearts, to name just a few. And many years before those, there was Rumer Godden's In This House of Brede (overdue for a reread, I believe). So I was hoping for the best with this new addition to the field.

But after finishing this novel, I couldn't help thinking of the old Peggy Lee tune, "Is That All There Is?" The book felt a bit like a first draft – a good idea, but one that needed to be fleshed out a little more before publishing. I enjoyed it, but there were things about it that bothered me.

For one thing, most of the characters never really took shape as separate individuals. The Mother Superior and her nemesis Sister Ana were distinct enough. However, while the other nuns had names too, they might as well have been called Nun Number One, Nun Number Two, etc. And the child didn't come across as a real child, either – he hardly ever cried, or made any kind of fuss. And maybe I just don't have enough experience with infants, but it seemed odd to me that as a newborn he was able to drink from a bowl or cup without any problems or mess. I understand that he was functioning as a symbol in the story, but I would have been happier if he'd functioned a little more like a real baby, too.

But I guess the thing that bothered me the most was the story itself. When the deep dark secrets at the heart of the novel are revealed, you experience a sort of "That's it?" moment. The big secrets turn out to be so predictable that everything seems kind of pointless. However, Karnezis is a very skillful craftsman, and there's some beautiful writing in The Convent. It kept my attention right up to the end, even with all its imperfections. I'd certainly recommend it – just be ready to suspend an awful lot of disbelief.

[Note: I received the advance reading copy of this novel free of charge from the publisher, through Library Thing's Early Reviewer program. No other form of compensation was offered or accepted, and no one attempted to influence my opinion of the book.]