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Book Review: Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

Bittersweet
By Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
Releases 5/13/14
Provided free by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Finish time: 2+ weeks.  Is it just me or is it getting darker earlier!?  Shorter days makes for a more exhausted mama, so this book was read one chapter at a time, thus taking me way too long.  And I finished 3 days ago and am now finally sitting down to write a review (I’ll blame it on cyber Monday!)  None of this is indicative of how much I liked this book though, it was an enjoyable read.

Mabel and Ev were college roommates from completely different worlds.  What started off as a hostile, non-communicative relationship, quickly blossomed into Mabel being invited to spend the summer at Winloch, a very lucrative summer escape owned for over a century by Ev’s family.  And what a family she has.  The Winslows are a family proud of their name and heritage who come to Winloch each summer to spend time with family and escape from it all.  The author draws a beautiful picture of the cottages, lakes, streams, woods, and surroundings, that I wouldn’t mind a summer there either!

Ofcourse the summer is far from peaceful for anyone really.  Ev spends her time off gallivanting with a few male companions (inviting in her own drama) while Mabel (May) is left to her own devices.  She quickly meets “crazy” old Aunt Indo who entices May with a hidden folder that contains the “secret” in exchange for the possibility of her cottage at Winloch.  Albeit a little skeptical, May soon realizes that everything at Winloch is not as it seems, and dives in head-first and becomes obsessed.  Oh and Bittersweet is the name of the cottage at Winloch (I like to know where titles come from if anyone else does too!)

We’ll leave that for the introduction, but the story goes on to include mystery, romance, suspense, unpredictable characters, and maybe even murder.  No one can be trusted and an “outsider” is not the most welcome person to be digging through the family secrets, which run very deep.

I found I could relate to May at some points in the book, being thrown into this new, unknown world, but I also wasn’t crazy about her as a main character.  She was likable but not overly so.  I didn’t find myself invested in what happened to her, if that makes sense.  There are books where I have cried when things happen to characters, whereas in this book, I was invested in the story (which was great), but not so much the characters.

There are twists and turns all over and I would not call it predictable.  I felt like it was set up for one HUGE reveal, but that never came.  Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of surprising reveals, but just one last one I was hoping for!  If you read it and want to chat – feel free to email!  All that being said, I liked it, I liked the ending and it was a good read.  Worth your time if you get a chance!

 

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Book Review: Inferno by Dan Brown

Inferno by Dan Brown (click book for description)
(Borrowed from a friend – thank you!)

Finish time: 6 nights.  This is a page turner for sure (all 480 pages of it!).  Good book, keeps you interested and turning the pages, but the ending?  I won’t reveal anything – but can someone else read this and let me know what you think?  I’m not sure I’m settled with it, is all I can say, and it has me questioning the entire book and it’s premise.

That all being said and put aside, it’s a thriller for sure.  I found myself staying up later than usual to get to a decent point to stop for the night, but there weren’t many breaks in the action.  From the first page when Robert Langdon (same character as Dan Brown’s other books) wakes up not remembering the last few days, the action is non-stop.  There are twists and turns and you never know who you can trust.  Plenty of well-built characters that were so well described, I could picture them in my head.  I’ve never been to any of the places described in the book, but would love to now because the descriptions made them sound so beautiful.  (The vivid descriptions also described some not too pleasant images that I would rather forget!)

The story takes place in present day Europe, but is centered around a “puzzle” on Dante’s Inferno (from the 14th century) and Sandro Bottacelli’s artistic depiction of it (Map of Hell – see below).  I only vaguely recall Brown’s other books that I read so long ago (The DaVinci Code and Angels & Demons), but I remember more of the codes and symbols.  While this book had puzzles (really just one big one), I didn’t feel as involved as I recall in the other books (as I enjoy puzzles and riddles).  Not a bad thing, maybe just not what I expected.  I don’t recall ever reading the Inferno, but the glimpse into Dante’s world is both fascinating and disturbing and a great topic for a novel.  (Real subject, fictional story – makes me feel a bit smarter!)

I could probably go on – but I will encourage you to read it, then let’s talk!  Or you can read the 7k+ reviews on Amazon if you want more info.  I have not read any yet – so not sure how mine measures up – but I hope it gave you a decent introduction.  Overall great read, no doubt about that, just left me thinking. (Which may not be a bad thing – but I need to discuss soon!)

Botticelli’s Map of Hell
Click here for a zoomable version. (Many more online too!)

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