Tag Archives: Kate Reading

Book Review: Where The Light Enters by Sara Donati (3/5)

27 Jun

I listened to the first book in this series a few years ago and I remembered feeling a bit frustrated at the end when it was clear that the story wasn’t over. After such a long book, that wasn’t the feeling I wanted. But I’d enjoyed the writing and the the characters and decided to put the second book on my TBR. I remembered a lot of the story when I picked this one up. I’m not sure I’ll give a third installment another try.

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Cover image via Amazon

Where the Light Enters (Waverly Place #2) by Sara Donati

Other books by Donati reviewed on this blog:

The Gilded Hour (Waverly Place #1)

Summary from Amazon:

Obstetrician Dr. Sophie Savard returns home to the achingly familiar rhythms of Manhattan in the early spring of 1884 to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. With the help of Dr. Anna Savard, her dearest friend, cousin, and fellow physician she plans to continue her work aiding the disadvantaged women society would rather forget.

As Sophie sets out to construct a new life for herself, Anna’s husband, Detective-Sergeant Jack Mezzanotte calls on them both to consult on two new cases: the wife of a prominent banker has disappeared into thin air, and the corpse of a young woman is found with baffling wounds that suggest a killer is on the loose.  In New York it seems that the advancement of women has brought out the worst in some men. Unable to ignore the plight of New York’s less fortunate, these intrepid cousins draw on all resources to protect their patients.

I had really mixed feelings on this book. The characters are well drawn and I felt I enjoyed the plot that was shared. However, it dragged far too much for me. Each scene, I wondered to myself ‘Is this really relevant?’ There was so much detail that it dragged on and on and on. This was a 26 hour audiobook and I feel like I could summarize it verbally in less than a minute.

Donati’s characters are wonderfully drawn. I felt like I knew them well and they had some nice nuances. However, I’m not sold on them as a whole. I felt there were far too many characters and some had minimal or no role in this part of the story. Ned and Bambina barley showed up at all, for example. Maybe Donati has bigger plans for them later, but they were pointless in this book and I felt overwhelmed remembering all the names of the characters in this book. Also, I felt the mentalities of the characters were far ahead of their times and it took me out of the setting far too often. Yes there were many side characters and antagonists who seemed to fit the time period, but most of the main characters had very 21st Century views in the middle of the 1800s.

Anna was the easiest character to like. It felt like she took more of a backseat in this installment than she had in the previous book where she was the main focus. Sophie shown more in this book and while I liked her, she also felt incomplete to me. A bit part of Anna and Sophie’s identities are being doctors and Sophie wasn’t working in this book. I think she was meant to feel a bit adrift after Cap’s death but it didn’t make for a very compelling lead character.

Without giving away a moment that was meant to feel like a big reveal but didn’t hit too hard, I did have a moment I related to Anna. Like her, I value my career a lot and am proud of how hard I worked to get to where I am. She has accomplished a lot and is right to be proud of it and what she’s been able to accomplish.

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Sara Donati Image via Penguin Books

There wasn’t a part of this book I particularly enjoyed. I think that’s a part of why it didn’t wow me. The ending was exciting as the team made progress on the murders that plagued the first book. However, it was so slow and drawn out that it felt like a relief to finally get there and less like an exciting conclusion.

Tonino’s plot line was a huge disappointment to me. The first book focused on him so much and developed him so much, and it seemed to come to nothing. I don’t see how his story developed his sisters, either. I find the two girls interchangeable and I forget often which is which. After being such a focus of the first book, they seemed like an afterthought and inconvenience to the author in this book.

The audiobook was read by Kate Reading, a different narrator than the first book. This isn’t something I run into frequently so I wonder why the change was made. However, I’ve listened to books narrated by Reading before and I enjoy her as a narrator. She did voices for all the characters well and kept the story full of emotion and as much suspense as possible for the duration. I now wonder which of the two will get an eventual third installment.

The story focuses a lot on medicine and disease. I’m thinking specifically of Tonino and Nora, both of whom are seen as incurable and are treated very differently. How we care for the ill varies depending on their age, condition, and history. As doctors, Sophie and Anna treat everyone but these characters make us call into question why car differs and the justice of it. Is Nora less deserving of care because of her past actions and beliefs? It’s hard to say because of what she’s done and what’s been done to her. It’s a good moral quandary for a book, but maybe not one this long.

Writer’s Takeaway: This book was a lesson in length. There was way too much going on in this book and I think a lot of it could have been cut. Characters could be cut, scenes, and subplots. As rich as the world was, it was at the expense of my interest. I felt pulled in so many directions, I didn’t know where to look and it ended up being exhausting.

In the end it had it’s ups and downs, but I think I’m done with this series. Three out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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Related Posts:
Blog Tour – New Release Book Review: Where the Light Enters by Sara Donati | Mrs B’s Book Reviews
REVIEW: Where the Light Enters by Sara Donati | Sam Still Reading
Review & Giveaway: Where the Light Enters by Sara Donati | Book’d Out
Review of “Where the Light Enters” (The Waverly Place Series #2) by Sara Donati | Courtney Reads Romance

Book Review: Bellwether by Connie Willis (4/5)

22 Feb

When I wrote my review for another of Willis’s books, Debbie at Moon in Gemini recommended Willi’s ‘short novella’ Bellwether if I wanted something more modern by the same author. It took me a year, but I got to it. It helped that the library had it on audio.

Cover image via Goodreads

Cover image via Goodreads

Bellwether by Connie Willis

Other Connie Willis books reviewed on this blog:
The Doomsday Book (4/5)

Summary from Goodreads:

Sandra Foster studies fads and their meanings for the HiTek corporation. Bennet O’Reilly works with monkey group behavior and chaos theory for the same company. When the two are thrust together due to a misdelivered package and a run of seemingly bad luck, they find a joint project in a flock of sheep. But series of setbacks and disappointments arise before they are able to find answers to their questions.

This was so fun and cute and I really enjoyed it. Yes, it was a romance and yes it was fun, but it wasn’t full of too-good-to-be-true characters who were attractive and perfect. I liked them all. Though, I’m not sure if I would define something of this length as a ‘novella.’ It was 250 pages which I would call a novel but I guess when her other books are 500-ish pages, this does feel short in comparison. I had one beef with the book that kept it from a full 5 stars for me, which I’ll get to later but the characters and science in the book were fun and had me laughing out loud a lot.

Sandy and Bennet were remarkably normal characters who were well aware of their normalcy while everyone else had, at least, one quirk. Flip is hard to ignore as an over-the-top character, but it was a very real portrayal of those who are fashion forward and always up on the latest trend. The other scientists and Billy Ray seemed to be oblivious to the influences they had in their lives and I liked that Sandy could see them all. A great cast of characters to bring this story together.

Flip was both my favorite and least favorite character. She was fun to read about and could always be counted on for a fun like to brighten the story and make me laugh. But she was also irritating. She combined everyone you’d been forced to work with and hated into one person. She was also the person you think it staring at your outfit and judging it all the time and the person who you run into when you don’t want to. All in one. It created a love-hate relationship.

I related to Sandy and Ben in different ways. I related to Ben because a frequently feel my style is, at least, three years behind the time and I don’t even notice. I started wearing skinny jeans way too late and I’m still suck on them. I’m refusing to give into the ‘workout clothes in public’ trend that I’ve noticed a lot lately. Running tights are for running. I also related to Sandy because I’ll notice trends going on around me (like running tights) and feel like I’ behind because I just don’t get it. Honestly, what am I missing? How are comfortable clothes now a trend when it hasn’t been like that since the 80s and we all now agree that was a terrible trend. I’m missing something.

"ConnieWillisCW98 wb". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

“ConnieWillisCW98 wb”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The subplot with Billy Ray was my favorite of the book. He was a trendy guy from a subculture you wouldn’t think of as trendy. It was fun to see which trends affected his character and how he was similar to Flip in a lot of different ways. I also enjoyed the nod to cell phones in the 90s when this was published. It dated the book for sure, but it was fun to remember them.

For the first 80% of the book, I couldn’t figure out what the goal of the characters was. I felt that ‘finding the source of hair bobbing’ was too vague to be the main purpose of a novella. That’s what I would expect to find in a non-fiction book. It made the book seem very lost to me for a long time. I enjoyed the jabs at management and hearing how Flip can ruin everything, but I failed to see an end point until very close to the end.

My audiobook was narrated by Kate Reading and I absolutely loved her. She kept Sandy light and airy, gave believable voices to the male characters. She did great voices for Flip and the other waiters and waitresses Sandy ran into who were rude and eye-rolling to customers. It was fun all around and Reading kept Sandy light-hearted and sarcastic which was great.

It wasn’t a problem that the characters were following fads. It wasn’t even their fault. The clothes that are available and the restaurants that stay open are often because of fads and trends. Sandy had to live with wearing PoMo Pink and drinking Cafe Lattes because that was available. But it was good to be aware that certain things were trends. The anti-smoking fad for example. It caused everyone to be mean to Cheryl when she was the most important person at HiTek. Sandy’s ability to identify fads made her resilient to them to a degree, but she still had to follow some of them.

Writer’s Takeaway: Reading Willis’ Goodreads Author page, it points out that her protagonists often come up against minor characters single-mindedly pursuing a goal that seems irrational or illogical. This is a great source of humor in a book. Flip’s goal is to do as little as possible and her other coworker needs to find Romantic Bride Barbie. These goals affect the main character ways that can be humorous and provide the time for the protagonist to discover something about the goal. I want to try this technique.

A super fun read that cleansed my palate for some longer fantasy ahead. Four out of Five stars.

This book fulfilled 1980-1999 for my When Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Bellwether | Shelf Love
What your professor never told you about science: a review of Bellwether | Scientific Gems
Following The Leader – Bellwether, by Connie Willis | Serendipity