Dear Mr. M

dear-mr-mAuthor: Herman Koch

Publisher: Hogarth

Release Date: September 6, 2016

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

If you like to think while you read, you will love this book!

Mr. M is an elderly Dutch author who has written many books in his lifetime, but none have lived up to the hype of his early novel Payback.  Written based on a factual account of a young teacher who coerced a young female student into a relationship.  When she ended the relationship, he couldn’t fathom why she left him for the student he did and become obsessed with her.  When the teacher and two students end up in a deserted vacation home during Christmas vacation, the teacher ends up disappearing without a trace, bringing the two students under suspicion of murder, but no conviction is ever made.  People loved the book and even a movie was made from it.  But someone from the story surfaces and begins writing to the author.  The notes aren’t particularly amusing and could even be considered threatening.  What if dear Mr. M got it all wrong?

This has definitely been one of the more thought provoking reads of the year! Told from five different viewpoints throughout the story with little to no warning of who is suddenly taking over the narration.  It also switches between past and present without warning when changing sections of the book, so be warned.  However, Koch is a master story teller as I had no idea the full story until I read the whole story.  I was making conjectures throughout, but something always felt off.  Something didn’t quite make sense until the last few pages put it all into perspective.  The entire book makes it seem as though Mr. M is this washed up little talent author with the exception of two books: Payback which the book is centered on and then one about his ex-wife leaving him.  But maybe this old dog of an author isn’t all that unintelligent.

The story is primary a narration being told to the reader. There is some dialogue in a few parts that takes place here and there, so it can be a little difficult to follow at times.  There was some adult content included, both in harsh language and in implied sexual content.  The book is mostly set in the Amsterdam area, which I admit to having little to no geographical knowledge of prior to this book, which is always fun to help expand my horizons.  Overall an interesting read, but recommended for mature audiences due to the language and sexual content.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

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Fractured

fracturedAuthor: Catherine McKenzie

Publisher: Lake Union Press

Release Date: October 4, 2016

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

When a neighborhood seems more like typical high school cliques, you know things will not turn out well!

Julie Prentice has uprooted her family and moved across the country after being harassed by a stalker over the publication of her bestselling novel, The Murder Game. They move from Washington State to Ohio in hopes of a fresh start.  Shortly after arriving, they find that their neighborhood is controlled by Cindy, the self-appointed head of their home owners association, and she wants to be involved in everyone’s business.  Julie finds an instant connection to her neighbor John Dunbar, which is a breath of fresh air to have someone nice around after the horrendous affair with the stalker.  Before long, Julie and her family become the targets of harassment once again.  There are misunderstandings and things are blown out of proportion quicker than high school gossip.  As things start to spiral out of control, Julie isn’t sure how much more she can take when tensions rise and the worst of everyone comes out.

I have to say I liked this much more than I first thought I would. There was a uniqueness to the story with the back and forth from the past to the present and the different viewpoints between Julie and John.  If you weren’t paying close attention, it might be a little difficult to follow but not terrible.  The writing to keep the tension up was done really well.  To produce a high amount of suspense in a novel, I think more of a murder mystery with a killer on the loose to keep me on the edge of my seat.  Here there was something about the way the story was written, especially after about the first third of the book, which I couldn’t put it down.  I give credit to Catherine McKenzie for that; it is not an easy task.  The last few chapters almost seemed a rush to tie things up a little too quickly though.  Several of the characters are very annoying, I’m looking at you Cindy, and some are just there to be there.  Even so, the story itself was very well laid out.  It did seem at times that even the adults were more immature than some of the kids. For example, Cindy tries to be a leader and inevitably becomes a bully.  Susan is a bit of a cling-on and Julie tries to fit in and yet finds everyone against her when she didn’t feel she had done anything wrong.

I do need to say this is for mature audiences with some of the language used, but could have been a lot worse. Overall it was a very enjoyable read and one I will recommend.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from TLC book tours. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.