Book Review: The Twisted Thread

The Twisted Thread

Charlotte Bacon

Voice

384 pages

Claire Harkness is one of those girls.  The type that is unflinchingly beautiful, that seems to get what she wants when she wants it.  So it is a shock to everyone at Armitage Academy when she is found dead in her room one morning.  It becomes apparent straightaway that she has been harboring quite the secret; Claire has recently given birth.  How she died and the whereabouts of her new baby are unknown.

Madeline Christopher is a young woman interning in the English department and she is in the vortex of the mystery.  Because of her youth, Madeline is trusted by the teenagers involved, and very quickly she begins hearing information about the case that deeply disturbs her.  I will just add that it involves a secret society that very much reminded me of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History.

The mystery surrounding Claire’s death and the paternal parentage of her baby seems clear from probably the midpoint of the book, and in the end wasn’t so shocking.  In fact, it was surprising to me that the investigators on the case didn’t pick up on it earlier.  I suppose that would have made the book go too quickly! The whereabouts of the baby, and whether it was dead or alive, kept me guessing much longer.

I have been on a mystery kick recently, and The Twisted Thread only added to my voraciousness of the genre.  I was enthralled for the majority of the book, and found it insatiably readable. Add to that the setting of a prestigious boarding school, and you’ve got a real winner.  I always seem to go crazy for the boarding school setting, and it did not disappoint in this instance.  If you are into literary mysteries, certainly take a chance and pick this one up.

Other Reviews:

Presenting Lenore

I received an e-galley of this book from Netgalley.

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The Sunday Salon: 7/10/11

Originally, I was not going to bother with a Sunday Salon post this morning (although since I slept so late, I guess this is now what most people consider afternoon).  I just didn’t feel like I had much to say.  But then I grabbed some Starbucks, and now, with coffee in hand, I am dying to tell you about my newest book.

I started it last night and at first, I wasn’t sure I was going to like it.  I’ll be honest with you.  I liked Push well enough (same with the movie), but I didn’t love it. Was it a case of the hype overpowering the book?  Maybe.  I’ll never know.  I just remember finishing it and not feeling wowed like I expected.  So when I found out TLC was touring The Kid, I thought Why not? But really, I wasn’t sure if I would like it.

The story picks with Precious’s son at 9 years old, Abdul, at her funeral.  And for the first 30 pages or so, I was worried.  I thought, This book is just not for me.  In all honesty, were it not for the fact that I have a blog tour due for this book, I may have but the book aside for the time being.  I am so glad I didn’t.  I didn’t even expect to read much at all last night, but I started plowing through that sucker and got about halfway through before I finally passed out from exhaustion.

I guess this was a valuable lesson to me to stick with a book for a decent amount of time before you throw in the towel.  Since I started blogging, I have been a lot more cavalier about tossing a book if it’s not doing it for me right away.

As for my plans today, I don’t think I will have much time delegated towards reading.  I DID, however, get a chance to pick up some Crackle nail polish, which I have been lusting after for some time.  So my first plan of order is to paint my nails! Hopefully they’ll look like this in no time–

Does anyone have exciting plans for today?

Book Review: To Full Term

To Full Term: A Mother’s Triumph over Miscarriage

Darci Klein

Penguin Group

288 pages

Darci Klein has already birthed one live child and suffered three miscarriages, including the loss of twins at about 20 weeks gestation when she discovers that she is pregnant again.  Instead of feeling elation, she is full of dread at the roller coaster ride she knows she’s about to embark on.  Pregnancy is much different when you have suffered a loss, and the fear is compounded by the medical community, which fails to treat miscarriage as anything other than unfortunate.  Klein demands that her doctors treat her concerns seriously, and had she not been so adamant about her care, she likely would have suffered yet another loss.

Klein is put on bed rest from pretty much the beginning of her pregnancy, and is forced to inject herself with drugs to try to save her baby.  Despite all her precautions, her situation seemed dire numerous times, and she was unsure if this baby would suffer the fate of most of her others.

I read this book after suffering two miscarriages myself within the past two months.  I am still unsure of whether reading To Full Term was a good idea or a bad idea. On the one hand, Klein made it a point to hold the medical community culpable for how miscarriage is usually brushed off as being normal, or the fact that little testing is done and many miscarriages are thought to be the result of genetic defect, when in reality a good portion of miscarriages are due to other causes.  So in that sense, I feel more educated if, God forbid, I should suffer another miscarriage.  I will have a better grasp of what questions to ask and what tests to demand, instead of flying blind which has been my mode in the past.

On the other hand, Klein’s situation seems to be more dire than the typical pregnancy, and I think it could inspire fear where none is warranted.  While there was hope in To Full Term, and Klein gave birth to a healthy baby, it was so touch and go throughout her entire pregnancy that it made me nervous about ever getting pregnant again.  Her determination and hope resonated with me though despite how difficult her situation was.

Overall, I am glad I read To Full Term, because the questions it answered outweighed the fear it instilled.

Other Reviews:

None that I could find.

I purchased this book used from Amazon Marketplace.

Book Review: Flow

Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation

Elissa Stein and Susan Kim

St Martin’s Griffin

288 pages

I’m 27 years old, so I’ve long gotten used to the idea of a period.  At this point, it is nothing more than a monthly nuisance, and little thought goes into the actual function of my body.  Then I saw a review of this book on Care’s book blog, and I figured that it would make an interesting read, if nothing else.

Flow is, in some aspect, a picture book for adults.  There is a lot of information and text, but there are quite a few diagrams and ads thrown in too, which I really loved.  The older the ads were, the more hilarious they became.  And the more cringe worthy too.  Take this gem, for example.

Yes, that’s right . . . a rubber apron so that your cloth apron would not be soaked in blood.  Because apparently, tampons and pads are a fairly new phenomenon, so that prior to that time, you may very well have just let nature take its course, resulting in blood just saturating your undergarments. In fact, one paragraph of Flow even described how female factory workers would just have knee high straw on the floor to bleed on as they continued to work diligently.

The best (or I guess it should be worst) part of the book was the chapter on female hygiene.  My generation was always warned against the dangers of douching, but I never wondered about it further.  Apparently, douching was very popular almost a century ago, and one of the products touted as a douche was LYSOL.  Yes, Lysol.  In your hoo ha.  Ad agencies used scare tactics to make women believe that their natural smell was offensive, like the one below.

It’s almost laughable, but for the fact that using these products caused countless infections and even infertility.

For weeks after finishing this book, I regaled my coworkers with little tidbits from Flow, to the point where some of them have asked to borrow it. It is a great conversation starter!

Other Reviews:

The Book Lady’s Blog

Care’s Online Book Club

I purchased this book used from Amazon Marketplace.

Challenges

I think that as I have been blogging longer and longer, reading challenges have become less important to me. When I first began blogging, I was all about participating in challenges, both for the camaraderie and the fun of reading something new.  After almost two years of book blogging though, challenges seem more like a burden than anything else.  I already have enough obligations with my reading, so from this point on, my participation in reading challenges will be very limited.  I went ahead and deleted Current Challenges page and Completed Challenges page to try and alleviate the pressure.  In fact, the only challenge I plan on participating in at this time is the Europa Editions challenge, along with possibly (most likely!) the RIP challenge later this year.

I am always on the hunt for Europa books, and I have quite a few on my shelves that I haven’t read yet, so this challenge is a win-win for me.  The challenge runs from July 1, 2011-December 31, 2011 and has a myriad of levels.

There are several levels of participation:
Europa Ami (friend in French): Read 4 Europa titles by the end of 2011;
Europa Haver (friend in Hebrew): Read 7 books by the end of 2011 (one per month);
Europa Amante (lover in Italian): Read 14 books by the end of 2011 (2 per month). At any level, you can qualify as

  • A Connoisseur, by accepting the Perpetual Challenge;
  • An Expatriate, by choosing books from a single country or original language;
  • A Passport Holder, by choosing books from different countries or original languages.

We have two speciality challenges:

Love Challenge
Sélim Nassib, I Loved You for Your Voice

Edna Mazya, Love Burns

Elena Ferrante, Troubling Love
Massimo Carlotto, Bandit Love

Creature Challenge

 Benjamin Tammuz, Minotaur
Alicia Giménez-Bartlett, Dog DayWolf Erlbruch, The Miracle of the Bears
Edwin M. Yoder Jr., Lions at Lamb House.
Roma Tearne, Mosquito
Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog
You can do the speciality challenges towards any of the Ami/Haver/Amante levels.
If anything, I plan to do the Ami level, which is to read 4 Europas by the end of the year.  I may read more than 4, I may read less.  That remains to be seen.  I am very excited though as Europa Editions is one of my favorite imprints!

Sunday Salon, 7/03/2011

Hi everyone! Just in case you were getting worried, I am popping in to let you know I am still here.  It has been a quiet week around here as far as my blog is concerned.  The reason is nothing exciting; things have just been busy at work.  Tuesday will be my first day off in almost two weeks, so I will hopefully be able to catch up on my reviews around mid week.

I can’t believe that June has already come to an end.  Ally will be going back to school in just a month, so the summer is flying by.  I felt like I got very little reading done this month, so I am happy that I read eight books.  Here are the titles I read.

Then We Came to the End, Joshua Ferris

Flow, Alissa Stein and Susan Kim

To Full Term, Darci Klein

The Long Journey Home, Margaret Robison

Running with Scissors, Augusten Burroughs

The Twisted Thread, Charlotte Bacon

In the Shadow of Gotham, Stefanie Pintoff

The Reservoir, John Milliken Thompson

I have been on a mystery kick, and I read some great literary mysteries in June.  I don’t really have any concrete plans for July, but I hope I will be able to get a little more reading time carved out.

What were your favorite books that you read for June?