Well this is a first. I always have a lot to say about the books I read, my opinions on the writing (good or bad) and if I would recommend the book. But I have found a novel that left me…speechless. Not sure what to say, whether good or bad. Not even sure if I should recommend it to others.
I was looking forward to reading Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger, her sophomore novel after The Time Traveler’s Wife. I hadn’t read or seen the movie, but heard many good things and eagerly anticipated opening her latest. I was left feeling confused, unsettled, and plain unsure about what I just read. I always jot down my rating as soon as I finish a book, but I just stared blankly at my notebook, not sure what to write. Kind of like I am doing now for this review, except I’m at a computer.
The story begins with the untimely death of Elspeth, twin sister to Edie and lover to Robert. Aunt to young girls, Julia and Valentina, also twins. Elspeth requests in her will that the twin girls move from the States to London to live in her flat for a year. During their stay, the twins meet Elspeth’s ghost, befriend some odd characters, become fascinated with the neighboring cemetery, and start to grow apart as sisters. Valentina begins to feel she will never be her own person with her twin constantly in the picture, and she and Elspeth devise a morbid plan to change that. The ending had me shout aloud, a strangled noise actually escaped from lips, I was so shocked by the events taking place.
Niffenegger obviously has a talent for telling stories and creating so many unique characters throughout one novel. The plot is interesting, though I don’t have much interest for the supernatural topics. I thought about giving Her Fearful Symmetry a three rating, but decided to up it to a four. My reasoning behind that is, I simply couldn’t stop talking about the story! I called my mom, I told my boyfriend and his mom, I told co-workers…it really got me thinking and talking to many people I don’t normally discuss my readings with. I also looked on Amazon to see what other readers thought, and they were over 400 reviews! Seems everyone wanted to give their opinions, and the ratings were anywhere from a 1-5. If you have read Her Fearful Symmetry, I would love to get your feedback on the story, and if you haven’t, give it a try. You might love it, you might hate it, but I can guarantee most will be left wanting to talk about it!
Author Name: Audrey Niffenegger
Bio: Audrey Niffenegger was born in 1963 in the idyllic hamlet of South Haven, Michigan. Her family moved to Evanston, Illinois when she was little; she has lived in or near Chicago for most of her life. She began making prints in 1978 under the tutelage of William Wimmer. Miss Niffenegger trained as a visual artist at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and received her MFA from Northwestern University’s Department of Art Theory and Practice in 1991. She has exhibited her artist’s books, prints, paintings, drawings and comics at Printworks Gallery in Chicago since 1987. Her first books were printed and bound by hand in editions of ten. Two of these have since been commercially published by Harry N. Abrams: The Adventuress and The Three Incestuous Sisters.
In 1997 Miss Niffenegger had an idea for a book about a time traveler and his wife. She originally imagined making it as a graphic novel, but eventually realized that it is very difficult to represent sudden time shifts with still images. She began to work on the project as a novel, and published The Time Traveler’s Wife in 2003 with the independent publisher MacAdam/Cage. It was an international best seller, and has been made into a movie. In 1994 a group of book artists, papermakers and designers came together to found a new book arts center, the Columbia College Chicago Center for Book and Paper Arts. Miss Niffenegger was part of this group and taught book arts for many years as a professor in Columbia College’s MFA program in Interdisciplinary Book and Paper Arts. She is now on the faculty of the Columbia College Fiction Writing Department. Miss Niffenegger has also taught for the Newberry Library, Penland School of Craft and other institutions of higher learning.
Miss Niffenegger is a founding member of the writing collective Text 3 (T3). Recent T3 endeavors include the litmag little Bang and some rather amusing dinner parties. Miss Niffenegger’s second novel, Her Fearful Symmetry, was published in 2009 by Scribner (USA), Jonathan Cape (UK) and many other fine publishers around the world. In 2008 she made a serialized graphic novel for the London Guardian, The Night Bookmobile, which was published in book form in September, 2010. She is working on her third novel, The Chinchilla Girl in Exile.
Titles: The Time Traveler’s Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry
Bio Retrieved from www. audreyniffenegger.com
In My Mailbox: Week of September 12th
Title: Sammi Ever After
Author: Soma Helmi
Received: From Soma Helmi
Synopsis: Girl meets boy. They fall in love. Girl moves across the world to be with boy. Boy dumps her at the airport…via email. Sammi’s fixation with Prince Charming has her in trouble again. Now she’s in London, sleeping on a friend’s couch and no ‘Happily ever after’ in sight. From Bali to Greece, Sammi’s journey to find her own fairytale ending may take her to a place she never expected.
Title: Her Fearful Symmetry
Author: Audrey Niffenegger
Received: From Audrey Niffenegger
Synopsis: Fortune’s wheel is a harsh chastiser, and those lucky writers who have found heady success with their first books often come crashing down with the second, never to rise again. What’s the cause? Do they succumb to nerves from external expectations? Do they secretly feel unworthy? Are our expectations as readers unreasonable? Have they merely been sport for the gods?
The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger’s first book, was Cinderella at the ball — a book that got published without a literary agent behind it, a popular success that was a critical one too. Its distinctive (and, I assume from Niffenegger’s acknowledgments, long-steeped) flavor completely eluded the dumb movie made from it. Describing the novel as blending fantasy, science fiction, romance, mild philosophy, and epistolary traditions is technically accurate, but fails to capture its unusual charm: its balance of inevitability and suspense, the importance of conversations both humorous and tersely poignant, the cultural riffs and bookish background of Chicago in the ’80s and ’90s, the bubble of optimism that buoys it up even in the face of death and decay. It’s a great read. Given the weight of expectations (and money) riding on her second book, the conditions were ripe for Niffenegger to dig her own grave. But it turns out that in her second book, Her Fearful Symmetry, Niffenegger gets her characters to do the grisly digging for themselves while she floats out smelling like a rose.
Title: Cold Dawn
Author: Carla Neggers
Received: From Alana Signor @ Truth Be Told PR
Synopsis: A search-and-rescue dog handler and a California smoke jumper search for a violent arsonist in the snowy mountains of New England, in COLD DAWN (MIRA Books, November 2010, $7.99 U.S./ $9.99 CAN.), the third novel in New York Times bestselling author Carla Neggers’ riveting Black Falls series.
With the network of paid killers that disrupted life in Black Falls exposed, the people of the small, picturesque town in the heart of the Green Mountains are breathing a collective sigh of relief. That is, until search-and-rescue expert Rose Cameron discovers the charred remains of Derek Cutshaw, a ski instructor, with whom she shared a brief, troubled relationship. The fire looks like an accident, but Rose believes it was deliberately set and that Derek was murdered.
But Derek’s not the only former flame to reenter Rose’s life. Nick Martini, a wildfire smoke jumper with whom Rose shared a night of passion in Los Angeles, appears in Black Falls.
Still reeling from having ever gotten involved with Derek and, especially, from the tragic death of her father on Cameron Mountain, Rose ended her relationship with Nick by running back home to Vermont.
Nick has no desire to disrupt Rose’s life again or to earn the ire of her tough mountain-men brothers. But he’s on the trail of a firebug he believes is responsible for setting the fire that killed a California arson investigator.
Nick is convinced the same killer is responsible for the fire that killed Derek Cutshaw. But was his death a murder for hire or was the killer voluntarily disposing of a man who had hurt Rose Cameron and other people in Black Falls? Or had Derek stumbled on the arsonist’s identity?
Only Nick and Charlie Neal, the 16-year-old genius son of the vice president of the United States, believe a string of fires and explosions over the past year are connected. Nick is determined to follow the evidence—even if it takes him straight to Rose Cameron—to root out a ruthless firebug who has wormed his way into her hometown.
Title: Call Me Mrs. Miracle
Author: Debbie Macomber
Received: From Alana Signor @ Truth Be Told PR
Synopsis: This Christmas, Emily Merkle (call her Mrs. Miracle!) is working in the toy department at Finley’s, the last family-owned department store in New York City. And her boss is none other than Jake Finley, the owner’s son. For Jake, holiday memories of brightly wrapped gifts, decorated trees and family were destroyed in a Christmas Eve tragedy years before. Now Christmas means just one thing to him ¿ and to his father. Profit. Because they need a Christmas miracle to keep the business afloat. Holly Larson needs a miracle, too. She wants to give her eight-year-old nephew, Gabe, the holiday he deserves. Holly’s widowed brother is in the army and won’t be home for Christmas, but at least she can get Gabe that toy robot from Finley’s, the one gift he desperately wants. If she can figure out how to afford it. Fortunately, it’s Mrs. Miracle to the rescue. Next to making children happy, she likes nothing better than helping others and that includes doing a bit of matchmaking! This Christmas will be different. For all of them.
Title: A Chesapeake Shores Christmas
Author: Sherryl Woods
Received: From Alana Signor @ Truth Be Told PR
Synopsis: After years apart, Mick and Megan O’Brien are finally ready to make it official…again. Most of their grown children couldn’t be happier about their rekindled love and impending marriage this holiday season. Only Connor is a holdout. Driven to become a divorce attorney after what he views as his mother’s abandonment of their family, Connor’s not about to give his blessing to this reunion romance.
The last thing Megan wants to do is hurt her family again. After all, is she really sure she and Mick can make it this time around? And when an unexpected delivery causes chaos, it seems only a miracle can reunite this family.
Of course, it is Christmas—the season of miracles.
Title: Well Read and Dead
Author: Catherine O’Connell
Received: From Catherine O’Connell
Synopsis: The return of blue-blooded fashionista Pauline Cook, whose search for a missing friend leads her from an iconoclastic book group to the deepest and most unfashionable reaches of the Far East.
Back in Chicago after a disastrous European love affair, socialite Pauline Cook finds her finances nearly depleted, her co-op a shambles, and her best friend mysteriously missing—vanished along with Pauline’s cat. Though Whitney Armstrong’s husband offers a substantial reward for the return of his lost wife, Pauline can’t help suspecting that his grief is merely an act. But it’s a shocking suggestion by a member of Whitney’s book club that really gets Pauline moving—halfway around the world, in fact, to Thailand . . . in spite of a psychic’s warning of terrible danger.
In Asia, a morass of dark motives and deadly corporate intrigues await the intrepid globe-trotter. And all the high society connections in the world aren’t going to ensure that Pauline makes it home alive. . . .
Title: Well Bred and Dead
Author: Catherine O’Connell
Received: From Catherine O’Connell
Synopsis: Newly widowed Pauline Cook was once the toast of the Windy City elite—but now she’s practically broke. At least she’s in better shape than her dear departed friend Ethan Campbell, whose corpse Pauline has had the misfortune to discover. A writer who chronicled the lives, loves, and ensembles of the Gold Coast’s most elegant ladies, Ethan apparently took his own life—while inelegantly clad in old boxers, no less. And since no relatives are coming forward to claim Ethan’s remains, it falls to Pauline to settle his final affairs . . . with her own dwindling funds.
However, there are things about Ethan’s suicide that don’t seem to add up: the ratty undergarments he “chose” to die in, for example . . . and the multiple birth certificates the police turn up in his apartment. Before she can truly lay her friend to rest, plucky Pauline’s determined to get to the bottom of his increasingly suspicious death.
Thank you to everyone who voted for the first annual Chick Lit Plus Awards! I am counting up the votes and can’t wait to announce the final results. Before that, I wanted to list the winners for all of you who voted for your favorites! I had some amazing authors donate their books, and below are the winners. Please check to see if your name or email is listed. If so, please send me an email at Samantha@chicklitplus.com before Friday September 10th to claim your prize. Thanks again everyone!
1 Winner receives three novels by Marla Martenson, Excuse Me, Your Soul Mate is Waiting, Good Date, Bad Date, and Diary of a Beverly Hills Matchmaker – SAMANTHA SANDERS
1 winner receives Vivian Rising by Daniella Brodsky- CASEY (CASEYAMARA@GMAIL.COM)
1 winner receives Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger- SARAH REID
1 winner receives Swallow by Tonya Plank- LISA NELSON
Congratulations to the winners!
Today is the last day to vote for your favorites to win the Chick Lit Plus Awards! A link is provided below to each category, please use the comment section on those posts to submit your vote. Every single person who enters their vote will be entered in a drawing to receive the following books:
Excuse Me, Your Soul Mate is Waiting by Marla Martenson
Good Date Bad Date by Marla Martenson
Diary of a Beverly Hills Matchmaker by Marla Martenson
Swallow by Tonya Plank
Vivian Rising by Daniella Brodsky
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
If you vote for multiple categories, you are entered multiple times!
A big thank you to everyone who nominated their favorites for the Chick Lit Plus Awards! I had a great response and can’t wait to see who the winners turn out to be! I will be tallying up the nominations this week, and starting next Monday, the final voting process will begin. Be sure to vote for all your favorites- more great prizes will be handed out! Speaking of prizes, listed below are the names of all the winners for those who nominated. Thanks again to everyone who voted, I’ll be looking forward to hearing more opinions next week!
**1 Winner of all three Marla Martenson novels, Excuse Me, Your Soul Mate is Waiting, Good Date, Bad Date, and Diary of a Beverly Hills Matchmaker:
**2 Winners to receive both novels by Micheline McAllister: Welcome to My Life and Love You, Love Your Work, Let’s Do Lunch!
Melissa Amster & Michele (HearDoc2B@gmail.com)
**2 Winners each to receive a copy of Swallow by Tonya Plank:
Susan Parham & Sara_Lisa
**2 Winners each receive a copy of Reunion by JL Penn:
Stephanie(firstname.lastname@example.org) & Sarah(email@example.com)
**3 Winners to receive a copy of Vivian Rising by Daniella Brodsky:
Stephanie(firstname.lastname@example.org), Runner10(email@example.com), & Joanne Elvin
**1 Winner to receive a copy of Hook Line and Sink Him by Jackie Pilossoph:
**2 Winners to receive a copy of Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger:
Michele(HearDoc2B@gmail.com) & Emily(firstname.lastname@example.org)
All winners- please email me your mailing address at Samantha@chicklitplus.com by Friday August 27th
Categories: Best Cover, Best Sequel, Best Mystery/Cozy Mystery
Prizes: 2 winners will receive a copy of Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger.
Winners will be announced August 23rd.
Please post below to enter your nominations, or email me directly at Samantha@chicklitplus.com. The top 5 from each category will go on to the final voting process.
Some early nomination votes for these categories include:
Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella – Best Cover
Something Blue by Emily Giffin- Best Sequel
I Scream, You Scream by Wendy Watson –Best Mystery/Cozy Mystery