Title: The Weight of Blood
Author: Laura McHugh
Publication Date: March 11, 2014
Overview: Lucy has grown up in the Ozarks and, occasionally, people disappear. They rarely show up again. When her friend Cheri, a young girl with mental disability, goes missing and later shows up dismembered, the town is abuzz. No one knows what’s happened and Lucy feels obligated to look into Cheri’s death. In doing so, she uncovers terrible secrets about the people she loves.
For Fans Of: Gillian Flynn, Scott Smith
World-Building: McHugh gives the reader a very vivid picture of life in the Ozarks. Though it isn’t a purely imagined world, it’s very well crafted without being overly detailed. There’s a sense of isolation and distance in much of the landscape which is very true to life for a lot of rural America.
Character Development: Lucy starts out as a fairly naive kid whose main concern is whether she and her best friend Bess will get to hang out. Though she remains fairly innocent throughout, she starts to ask some hard questions and I think that’s where her real growth is.
The secondary plot, following her mother, Lila, also shows some very interesting character development. We see Lila come to a town and turn from a run-of-the-mill young woman into a wife, a mother, and a surprisingly fierce woman. This particular plot line also gives the reader insight into the depths of other characters (namely Lucy’s father and uncle) that was interesting to see and supplemented our understanding of them and their actions in the main plot line.
Plot: The plot is dynamic. It’s fast-paced.There’s a lot going on, some of which flows very naturally, other times it feels a little strange and like some of the characters may not normally behave in the way they do. It’s never a major distraction from the story though, and usually is there to push the story forward.
Book Depository Link: http://www.bookdepository.com/Weight-Blood-Laura-Mchugh/9780812995206
Title: The Lies of Locke Lamora
Author: Scott Lynch
Publication Date: June 27, 2006
Overview: Locke Lamora is a thief with terribly high ambitions. Cons come as easy to him as breathing, so much so that he is cast out from the biggest thieving crew in the city, right into the hands of some of the sneakiest criminals. As an adult, he takes the crew over, balancing cons that are forbidden among the gangs of the city with cultivating an image of a lowly breaking and entering crew.
Until, that is, a new threat comes into town: the Gray King. The entire city is under threat and Lamora has caught the King’s eye.
For Fans Of: Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson
World Building: The world that Lynch sets up is decently done. It was believable and, for the most part, consistent. There were a few things I found dubious: the economic and socio-economic implications of the Secret Peace and the medical knowledge in the world were primary points of contention. I have a hard time believing that two vastly different worlds would be able to come together for something as deliberate as the Secret Peace. Additionally, I find it hard to believe that underclasses like the Right People would willingly give up as large and profitable a mark as the rich simply for the luxury of not dealing with police. Additionally, I find that the medical knowledge is disjointed. In a world where there’s alchemy and where physicians guilds get cadavers on a regular basis, I’m surprised Lynch thinks that it is consistent to say that there’s a belief in the four humors rather than a greater medical knowledge.
Characters: The characters were interesting. In particular, I liked the Thiefmaker. He was very Fagan-esq (I’m sure that was intentional) and I liked the Spider and Jean. The rest of the characters had their moments, but I thought they all seemed very similar in dialogue. Their voices, in that respect, were very similar.
Lamora was lacking, I thought. He’s played up as this very clever and very mischievious person, but he doesn’t seem to behave that way. There isn’t a real sense of smugness about him or a sense of purpose for that enjoyment. I thought that the Sanza brothers seemed more like the type of personality that Lamora was supposed to be.
Plot: It served its purpose and was dynamic enough. I thought some of the plot points weren’t tied in particularly well. Nazca’s death didn’t really feel like the catalyst it could have been and it really took the Grey King’s plot a while to get going.
Rating: 4.0 A good read. I’d probably borrow it rather than buy it. High hopes for the second.
Book Depository Link: http://www.bookdepository.com/Lies-Locke-Lamora-Scott-Lynch/9780575079755
Title: The Rise and Fall of Great Powers: A Novel
Author: Tom Rachman
Publication Date: June 10, 2014
Genre: Contemporary (some mystery)
Overview: This novel follows Tooly, a late 30 something who has settled in Wales where she owns a bookstore in a small town. She’s led most of her life nomadically–her father was a U.S. contractor. When she was very young, she was taken from her father’s home and carted around the world with a group of criminals: Venn, Sarah, and Humphrey. Soon after settling down, she gets a call that Humphrey is ill and must travel back to New York, setting off a barrage of questions that have been left unanswered.
For Fans Of: Tom Rachman
World-Building: This book takes place in a contemporary setting. The world, itself, is unaltered save for the feasibility of mid-scale, repeated cons (not a terribly large stretch)
Character Development: There are some characters who really grow in this novel, Tooly first and foremost, and through her eyes, we see a good deal of growth in Fogg (or at least how Tooly comes to perceive him), Humphrey, and Duncan. We find out a lot about the characters’ past and, in a sense, it’s retroactive growth. It’s satisfying, though.
Plot: Some of the plot points seem a little rushed and it can be a bit hard to follow at first. The plot jumps between three different points in time, but after the first few chapters it’s very accessible.
Rating: 4.5 stars
Book Depository Link:http://www.bookdepository.com/Rise-Fall-Great-Powers-Tom-Rachman/9780679643654