Tag Archives: fiction

Book Review – Sister

Sister by Rosamund Lupton is seemingly just a mystery novel….but really it’s a lot more than that. With elements of literary novel and family drama thrown into the mix it brings more to the table than “just” a mystery book. Beatrice is an uptight Brit living in America with her fiancee. When her mother calls to tell her that her pregnant, mercurial, artistic sister, Tess,  has not been seen or heard from for four days she isn’t that worried and she flies to London to find her. When Tess’s body is discovered with the obvious signs of suicide, Beatrice or Bee, as she is called by her sister, refuses to believe  that her sister would commit suicide. Although everyone believes that she has been unhinged by her sister’s death, Bee obsessively continues on her quest to find the truth. She quits her job, leaves her fiancee and moves to London. As Bee investigates the circumstances around her sister’s life and death, she ends up finding out strange truths about her sister as well as a shocking secret. Did she commit suicide or is something more sinister happening?

This book has been showing up on all the reading blogs with a lot of buzz surrounding it. It was a big hit in the UK and now it’s coming to America. I must say that I loved it! I give it a big four stars on the BRFMF scale. First of all, I really enjoyed the story. The mystery is engrossing and will keep you guessing all the way to the end. Second, I love the way it is written – fraught with tension and suspense. Lupton achieves this through a lot of short tense chapters (a la James Patterson but obviously better written) and also through having the letters from Bee addressed to her dead sister complete with interesting bits of their history. Third, as a younger sister I enjoyed the depiction of the sister relationship. For those of us with sisters, we know it is a fragile and interesting dynamic. You are both friends and family, rivals and teammates, mentor and student. She captures exactly both the feelings of the older and younger sister. But don’t let that deter you from reading it if you don’t have a sister…you will still love it. I absolutely recommend that you read this book!

Three Appeals: Suspenseful mystery, sister relationship, literary quality

Red Flags: Some gore and violence, explicit language, sexual situations

If you liked Sister, then try:

1) State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

There were people on the banks of the river. Among the tangled waterways and giant anacondas of the Brazilian Rio Negro, an enigmatic scientist is developing a drug that could alter the lives of women for ever. Dr Annick Swenson’s work is shrouded in mystery; she refuses to report on her progress, especially to her investors, whose patience is fast running out. Anders Eckman, a mild-mannered lab researcher, is sent to investigate. A curt letter reporting his untimely death is all that returns. Now Marina Singh, Anders’s colleague and once a student of the mighty Dr Swenson, is their last hope. Compelled by the pleas of Anders’s wife, who refuses to accept that her husband is not coming home, Marina leaves the snowy plains of Minnesota and retraces her friend’s steps into the heart of the South American darkness, determined to track down Dr. Swenson and uncover the secrets being jealously guarded among the remotest tribes of the rainforest. What Marina does not yet know is that, in this ancient corner of the jungle, where the muddy waters and susurrating grasses hide countless unknown perils and temptations, she will face challenges beyond her wildest imagination. Marina is no longer the student, but only time will tell if she has learnt enough. (from Fantastic Fiction)

2) Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson

Christine wakens every morning next to a stranger who tells her he is Ben, her husband of twenty years. He tells her that she has suffered a horrible accident and has amnesia, leaving her unable to form any new memories. When Ben leaves for work, she is contacted by Dr. Nash, a neurologist, who directs her to a secret journal with details of her life and work. One day Christine finds the sentence “Don’t Trust Ben” in her journal and begins a journey to discover what is really the truth about her life.

3) The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst

In 1913, George Sawle brings charming, handsome Cecil Valance to his family’s modest home outside London for a summer weekend. George is enthralled by his Cambridge schoolmate, and soon his sixteen-year-old sister, Daphne, is equally besotted by both Cecil and the stories he tells about Corley Court, the country estate he is heir to. But what Cecil writes in Daphne’s autograph album will change their and their families’ lives forever: a poem that, after Cecil is killed in the Great War and his reputation burnished, will be recited by every schoolchild in England. Over time, a tragic love story is spun, even as other secrets lie buried – until, decades later, an ambitious biographer threatens to unearth them. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)

If you read this book or any of the other books recommended it, PLEASE leave me a comment and let me know how you liked it!

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Trina B.

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Stories about Female Immigrants – a RA question

So after starting this blog, a friend recently emailed me with her own RA question. She was looking for a book where the main character is a female immigrant from Mexico. She had already found the title “How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent” by Julia Alvarez but wanted to see if I could help her with a few more titles. (Apparently having not such good luck with her local librarian – I am shaking my head and tsking at said librarian…) Here is what I found :

1) Across a Hundred Mountains by Reyna Grande

Juana, 11, loses her baby sister in a flood, and the death sets off a chain of tragic events: her money-strapped father heads north from their small Mexican town for el otro lado ; Juana’s newborn baby brother is claimed by the town money lender; and Juana’s mother descends into alcoholism and violence. At 14, Juana leaves to look for her father, from whom they have heard nothing. On her painstaking journey, she meets Adelina Vasquez, an American runaway working as a prostitute in Tijuana, who takes Juana in. The narrative switches off between young Juana’s viewpoint, and that of Andelina, now 31 and a Los Angeles social worker, who returns to Mexico to find her own father and reunite with her mother.

2) Migrations and Other Stories by Lisa Hernandez

This collection won the University of California-Irvines Chicano/Latino Literary prize. All the stories focus on the immigrant experience and family secrets that come out in these migrations.

3) Esperanza’s Box of Saints by Maria Amparo Escandon

This novel follows Esperanza Diaz, who has just lost her child in a routine tonsillectomy. On the day of her funeral she has a vision of a saint who tells her that beloved child is still alive. Esperanza comes to believe that her daughter has been forced into prostitution and travels from brothel to brothel searching for her eventually ending in Los Angeles. She encounters many zany characters in seach of the truth about her daughter.

Take a moment and check out these books about female immigrants!




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