Tag Archives: New York

Book Review: This Beautiful Life by Helen Schulman

5 Aug

Genre: Contemporary fiction

Publisher: Harper Collins (Harper)

Pub date: 2 August 2011

Source: Publisher

Synopsis

The Bergamots have moved from Ithaca, New York to Manhattan so that Richard can pursue a brilliant job opportunity. His wife Liz and their son Jake miss their old life and are struggling a little to fit in and stay happy. Liz has not only given up her career as an art historian, she is running herself ragged driving their 5-year old daughter Coco from school to classes to parties.  Jake receives a sexually explicit video from a 13-year old girl  and forwards it to a friend. Soon the video goes viral – Jake, his family and the girls are caught in the middle of a horrible scandal.

Review

Liz and Richard spare no effort to make sure that their children Jake and Coco get everything they never had. While Richard is completely focused on succeeding, Liz is trying hard to be there for both her children. Liz has a PhD and she’s frustrated about having to give up her career so that she can support Richard in his. 

While they are all struggling to come to terms with this new city life, something happens that blows their lives completely out of the water.

This Beautiful Life is a short book packs a punch and gets you thinking about how a small thoughtless moment can have such terrible consequences. From laughing at some unfortunate youngster who’s designed an aesthetic horror of a website to a much more serious sexting, our lives today have made it all too easy to share private communication.

Jake is a good person and immediately realizes that what he’s done is wrong. He’s both the victim and the perpetrator in this drama and this moment of bad decision-making will plague him throughout his life.

Told from the point of view of Liz, Jake and Richard, this is a ripped-from-the-headlines story and a cautionary tale.

Verdict

Highly recommended for anyone who likes realistic contemporary tales.

Rating: 4*

*See my Rating policy

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© Stargazerpuj and Stargazerpuj’s Book Blog, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Book Review: Long Gone by Alafair Burke

1 Aug

Genre: Crime fiction

Publisher: Harper Collins (Harper)

Pub date: 21 June 2011

Source: Publisher

Synopsis
After months of struggle following a layoff, Alice Humphrey gets an offer that seems too good to be true. She is approached by Drew Campbell who wants to hire her to manage an art gallery for a secretive art connoisseur. Brushing initial doubts aside, Alice takes on the job. The picketing by a religious group the day after the show opens is only the start of her troubles.

Review
This is the first book I’ve read by Alafair Burke and now I wonder how that can be. In this intricately plotted mystery, Burke brings together some very different story-lines.

Alice Humphrey doesn’t know who she works for. She hasn’t even met the artist whose work is being shown in the gallery opening. Her only contact is with the middleman Drew Campbell. In spite of all the red flags, Alice convinces herself that this is a great chance and sets about doing a good job.

But her job and life fall apart when Alice suddenly finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation. Nothing is as it seems and the deck is stacked against her as the police keep finding clues that point towards Alice. She must uncover and 20 year old secret while her life is threatened. Why has she been set up and who is the redhead in the photograph that the police believe is her?

Meanwhile, 15-year-old Becca has gone missing from her mother’s home. FBI Agent Hank Morhart is trying to track her down while at the same time stalking an old nemesis.

Helped by an obsessed FBI agent, Alice Humphrey digs out the truth and finds that as much as she ran away from her family, some old family secrets are still dogging her.

These two plots and some other characters come together in surprising ways in this fast-paced, intricately plotted mystery filled with satisfying twists and turns.

While dealing with social issues like child pornography, the story also brings to light the pitfalls of our digital social media life.

Verdict
Definitely recommended for fans of crime fiction. And I will definitely be reading other works by Alafair Burke – the Ellie Hatcher and Samantha Kincaid series

Rating: 4*

*See my Rating policy

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© Stargazerpuj and Stargazerpuj’s Book Blog, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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