A Review of Jennifer McMahon’s The Winter People

Halloween 2013 The 1000th Voice Blog

Today kicks off two weeks of reviews of gothic horror, suspense and otherwise creepy reads for my Halloween 2014 series.

The Winter People
By Jennifer McMahon

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a fan of horror fiction that tends towards torture porn. Being extremely terrified just isn’t something I enjoy. Instead, I gravitate more towards gothic horror or suspenseful or generally creepy books. Finding these books has been somewhat difficult. That is, until I looked up Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black on my library’s website and found the recommendations section. Jennifer McMahon’s The Winter People was recommended because:

In the best of the gothic tradition, these shivery ghost stories feature creepy locations, dark family secrets, and mysteries that are better left unsolved. Both novels are literary with an oppressive atmosphere and a slowly building sense of dread.

A literary ghost story with a general or slowly building sense of dread is an excellent description of the type of book I’m looking for each Halloween!

Review

In this classic, creepy ghost story, McMahon creates a sense of dread in a realistic New England setting. Using the small, remote town of West Hall, Vermont, McMahon winds a tail that begins in the early 1900s and continues into present day as a young woman digs into her parents’ past and learns of their dark secrets and those of her town.

The Winter People really had the perfect amount of scary parts to fit what I was looking for. An historic farm house serves as the setting for a large portion of the story, from the early 1900s to the present day.

Rating

Writing 5 out of 5 stars

McMahon uses clear, concise language to weave her tale.

Character Development  5 out of 5 stars

As the story progresses, McMahon develops her characters into realistic people with their own unique personalities.

Plot Structure 5 out of 5 stars

McMahon moves the plot forward at a comfortable pace, allowing the reader to settle in and enjoy her writing.

Storytelling 5 out of 5 stars

McMahon successfully mixed two story lines together to create one rich story.

Total 5 out of 5 stars

Have you read The Winter People? What did you think?

Weekly Reads: 10.6.14

Today, I’m halfway through my second Halloween reads bookmaybe. I’m reading

The Little Strangers by Sarah Waters

The Little Stranger
By Sarah Waters

It came up as a recommendation on my library’s website as I was looking at Susan Hill’s Woman in Black.  The book is great so far. There’s a slight hint of madness and possible haunting, but I’m not sure it fits the bill for a Halloween read yet.

If you’re interested in my thoughts as I read the book, check out my new Tumblr Totally Contains Spoilers.

What are you reading this week?

**Linked up with Book Journey**

Top 10 Characters at my Lunch Table

You Can't Sit with Us! | The Top 10 Literary Characters at my Lunch Table | The 1000th Voice Blog

Well, these ten fictional and nonfictional characters can always join my lunch table.

Laura Ingalls Wilder & Rose Wilder Lane, from The Little House series & Others

The dynamic between this mother-daughter literary duo would be fascinating to see in person, but each of them separately would also be great lunch table guests. Of course, in addition to my literary characters lunch, these two would make appearances on my authors table as well.

Hermione Granger, from the Harry Potter Series

Hermione is intelligent, well read and all around fascinating. Her stories of life as a Muggle at Hogwarts would fascinate the lunch table to no end.

Anne Frank, from The Diary of Anne Frank and Tales from the Secret Annex

Throughout her experience in hiding, Anne grew and developed a deep understanding of the human condition. Her contribution to lunchtime conversation would be astounding.

Winn Van Meter, from Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead

Winn Van Meter turns out to be the token male at the table. His pompous, self-righteous attitude would, honestly, be most unwelcome, but all-together fascinating.

Mamah Borthwick Cheney, from Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

I definitely do not agree with Mamah’s decisions, but her education, desires and impact on women’s rights can’t be understated. For that, she makes a great addition to the table.

Jane Eyre, from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Jane’s headstrong ways and willingness to live on her own terms would fit nicely with the others at the table.

Rachel Kalama, from Moloka’i by Alan Brennert

Despite a devastating diagnosis with leprosy, Rachel learns to truly live life to the fullest. Her communicable disease wouldn’t be welcome at the table.

Irene Beltrán, from Of Love and Shadows by Isabel Allende

Irene is typical of Allende’s strong, female characters. As a journalist during a revolution, she has to have fascinating stories for us.

Anne Shirley, from the Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery

And, why not, Anne. Grown up Anne would be an excellent addition.

Who would join you at your table?

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**Linked up with The Broke and the Bookish**

A Review of People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

As I mentioned in this post last summer, my first experience with Geraldine Brooks was her nonfiction The Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women. Brooks used her years of experience reporting from the middle east to write a great book that provides a lot of background on Islamic women to those of us far from familiar with their beliefs and lives.

After reading Year of  Wonders last summer (which I realize I’ve never reviewed), I fell in love with Brooks’ fiction work and couldn’t wait to read another one of her books. People of the Book was next up on my list.

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

People of the Book
By Geraldine Brooks

Review

People of the Book begins with, Hannah, an ancient book restoration expert in 1996, traveling to Sarajevo to inspect the Sarajevo Haggadah, an important Jewish book that hadn’t surfaced since prior to WWII. As  Hannah inspects the book, she discovers clues that eventually transport us back in time, following the book to its creation.

We follow the book back in time and witness the various atrocities Jews have endured over the years. We learn how the book’s owners survived or lost their lives. Throughout the book, Brooks emphasizes humanity among the atrocities from those who saved the book to those who saved the owners of the book.

Rating

Writing 5 out of 5 stars

Brooks’ writing was clear and transported me along the journey of discovering the book’s origin.

Character Development  4 out of 5 stars

As we travel back, we get to know a lot of fairly well developed characters

Plot Structure 5 out of 5 stars

The organization of the book works really well to move the plot forward.

Storytelling 5 out of 5 stars

Using the real life discovery of the Sarajevo Haggadah, Brooks tells a deep and intriguing story.

Total 4.75 out of 5 stars

Have you read People of the Book? What did you think?

Top 5 Memoirs I’d Recommend to a Memoir-Reading Newbie

I’ve found over time that I’ve read a number of very good memoirs. Using a creative, narrative approach, these authors embrace and dig into their lives with a no-topic-off-limits approach, discussing everything from race relations to tragedy, murder and more.

I’d recommend the following memoirs to someone who hasn’t embraced the genre:

Brother, I'm Dying by Edwidge Danticat

Brother, I’m Dying (Audiobook)
By Edwidge Danticat
Read by Robin Miles

Danticat’s clear, strong voice shines in this memoir about the two men who raised her–her father and her uncle. America may be the land of progress and second chances, but Danticat and her younger brother found themselves left behind in Haiti while their parents tried to and succeeded in creating a new life for the family in New York. This memoir is touching, moving and, at times, infuriating.

The Solace of Open Spaces by Gretel Ehrlich

The Solace of Open Spaces
By Gretel Ehrlich

Ehrich has lived in and loved Wyoming for years. Her clear, open writing paints a beautiful picture of the quiet, wide-open prairie where she chose to make her home.

Midnight in the Garden of good and Evil by John Berendt

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
By John Berendt

Berendt brought his journalistic profile approach to this book. Part memoir, part nonfiction mystery and so much more, this book tells the story of Berendt’s time in Savannah, GA, and the trial that changed the face of the city.

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster
By Jon Krakauer

Krakauer is a celebrated outdoor writer. In this memoir, he recounts his experience climbing Mt. Everest during a particularly deadly season.

My Invented Country: A Nostalgic Journey Through Chile by Isabel Allende

My Invented Country: A Nostalgic Journey Through Chile
By Isabel Allende
Read by Blair Brown

Like Haiti, Central American countries such as Chile experienced great political strife in the 60s and 70s. While many of these continue today, Allende provides background to Chile’s struggle and the events that would shape her celebrated fiction work.

What memoir(s) would you recommend to someone who hasn’t experienced the genre?

26f46-toptentuesday

**Linked up with The Broke and the Bookish**

Weekly Reads | 8.3.2014

How was your weekend? I only got about an hour of reading in this weekend. Most of that time was in a bubble bath.

So this week, I’m continuing to read

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf Mrs. Dalloway
By Virginia Woolf

If you’re interested in my thoughts as I read the book, check out my new Tumblr Totally Contains Spoilers.

In the car, I’m listening to

Our Lady of the Forest by David Guterson

Our Lady of the Forest (Audiobook)
By David Guterson
Read by Blair Brown

Recent Posts

Ten Authors I Own The Most Books From
What I’m Into | 7.2014
Major Book Buying Mode

What are you reading this week?

**Linked up with Book Journey**

Major Book Buying Mode

There was something about the month of July that set me on a book-buying binge.

It began early in the month when I got a coupon mailer from Half Price Books. The mailer was for 40% off ONE book, but I walked out with five.

Then, this week I picked up a handful more at my favorite thrift shop.

What all did I purchase? I thought you’d never ask!

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From the top:

Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville

The Awakening and Selected Short Stories by Kate Chopin

Portrait in Sepia by Isabel Allende

The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas by Jerry Dennis

No More Words by Reeve Lindbergh

Zenith City: Stories From Duluth by Michael Fedo

The Women by T.C. Boyle

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

What books have you purchased recently?

Ten Authors I Own The Most Books From

I’m excited to participate in The Broke and the Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday for the first time! I hope the topic this week (ten authors whose books I own the most of) will provide a fun insight into my bookshelves and reading life!

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I have my stuff together more than this Christmas-time photo
might indicate. It was taken months ago!

Counting down, here are the ten authors I own the most books from with many ties:

Five –

Stephen Covey (2) I’m a business school graduate. Enough said!

Geraldine Brooks (2) People of the Book and Year of Wonders were both amazing.

Barbara Kingsolver (2) I haven’t read The Poisonwood Bible yet, but I really liked Small Wondera collection of post-9/11 essays.

Four –

Frank McCourt (3) I first read Angela’s Ashes in high school and fell in love. I quickly purchased Teacher Man and ‘Tis when they were published and mourned McCourt’s passing.

William Shakespeare (3) Why not?

Isabel Allende (3) – One of my favorite authors, I have Zorro, Portrait in Sepia and Daughter of Fortune.

Three –

Jon Krakauer (4) I will never climb Everest or do many of the things he’s done and written about, but I love Krakauer’s writing style.

Laura Ingalls Wilder (4) – Obviously, I should have more. I do have three Wilder-related books on my shelves, though.

Two –

 J.K. Rowling (8) The Harry Potter series, of course, and The Casual Vacancy have (and will always have) treasured spots on my bookshelves.

One –

Fraggle Rock Series (15) We found these for Claire at a garage sale. We all enjoy reading them!

Top Ten Tuesdays hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

**Linked up with The Broke and the Bookish**

Weekly Reads | 7.28.2014

With Claire visiting my parents last week, Nick and I got to work on some household projects. I didn’t have much reading time, but I took as much time as possible.

Beginning this week, I’ll be reading the second half of

Zenith City: Stories from Duluth by Michael FedoZenith City: Stories from Duluth
By Michael Fedo

On my commute I’ve been switching between the radio and

The Magician's Assistant by Ann PatchettThe Magician’s Assistant (Audiobook)
By Ann Patchett

I wasn’t sure I’d stick with this after the first few minutes, but, as usual, I’m glad I stuck with it.

If you’re interested in my thoughts as I read, check out my new Tumblr Totally Contains Spoilers.

Recent Posts

July Book Lists

Pick out your next read from these great lists.

A Review of Steve Martin’s An Object of Beauty

Not comedy, but Martin’s distinctive voice shines through.

What are you reading this week?

**Linked up with Book Journey**

July Book Lists

The month of July seems to have been ripe with lists of book recommendations. Here are just a few.

Sexy, scary, suspenseful: 11 books to put on your summer reading list
Today Books
If you need something suspenseful, this list should help you out.

The 10 Books That Made Debut Novelist Will Chancellor Want to Write One of His Own
Times Magazine
There’s something about the idea of listing out the books that made an author want to write that I find fascinating.

7 Books You Need to Read This July
Vulture
Arts & Entertainment by Christopher Beha sounds absolutely fascinating to me.