#Giveaway Review SMOKE by Dan VyLeta @danvyleta @DoubleDayBooks 5.31

The publisher Publisher of the media / book has provided me with a review copy at no cost. Opinions are my own. Smoke: A Novel by Dan Vyleta
ISBN: 0385540175
Published by Doubleday on May 24th 2016
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Fiction, Historical, Religion, Science Fiction
Pages: 448
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-half-stars

 

smoke

England. A century ago, give or take a few years.

An England where people who are wicked in thought or deed are marked by the Smoke that pours forth from their bodies, a sign of their fallen state. The aristocracy do not smoke, proof of their virtue and right to rule, while the lower classes are drenched in sin and soot. An England utterly strange and utterly real.

An elite boarding school where the sons of the wealthy are groomed to take power as their birthright. Teachers with mysterious ties to warring political factions at the highest levels of government.  Three young people who learn everything they’ve been taught is a lie—knowledge that could cost them their lives. A grand estate where secrets lurk in attic rooms and hidden laboratories. A love triangle. A desperate chase. Revolutionaries and secret police. Religious fanatics and coldhearted scientists. Murder. A London filled with danger and wonder. A tortured relationship between a mother and a daughter, and a mother and a son. Unexpected villains and unexpected heroes. Cool reason versus passion. Rich versus poor. Right versus wrong, though which is which isn’t clear.

 

 

About the Author

DAN VYLETA is the son of Czech refugees who emigrated to Germany in the late 1960s. He holds a Ph.D. in history from King’s College, Cambridge. Vyleta is the author of three novels, Pavel & I, The Quiet Twin, which was shortlisted for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and The Crooked Maid, which was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and won the J.I. Segal Award. An inveterate migrant, Vyleta has lived in Germany, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. He currently resides in Stratford-upon-Avon in England.
review

My Thoughts

I wasn’t sure if this story is a basic, young-adult dystopian or a massive Sci-Fi epic, it turns out it is a mixture of both.  The story which reminds me of Dickens, filled with heroes and villains, is a retake on the Victoria era and filled with religious icons.  Children are born evil and smoke-filled which can only be cleansed by exposing their sin.  They are left to caretakers who are expected to absorb their sins as they appear as smoke.  Caught lying, you can be seen with whisps of smoke staining your clothes. As the children age, the upper class are sent to boarding schools were the “smoke” is basically beat out of them.
The story centers around Thomas and the fact that his father has commited a crime and that sin is carried on in him.  When Thomas visits his uncle, he meets Livia, whose mother is researching smoke in her laboratory (a bit of steampunk) and there is the basis for the rest of the story. While the majority of the characters are young adults, I think this one has more adult themes but I bet there were be a lot of teens wanting to read this one since I felt it had some shades of Harry Potter.
I really enjoyed it but felt that there was a bit too much detail.  I am more of a “dialogue” person and descriptive elements.  I loved the different viewpoints of each character and how easily it switched between them for each chapter.

WANT TO WIN A COPY?

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An email will be sent and you have 48 hours to reply or a new winner will be chosen.
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four-half-stars

#Giveaway Review THE GUEST ROOM by Chris Bohjalian @ChrisBohjalian @DoubledayPub 1.12

#Giveaway Review THE GUEST ROOM by Chris Bohjalian @ChrisBohjalian @DoubledayPub 1.12The Guest Room: A Novel by Chris Bohjalian
ISBN: 0385538898
Published by Doubleday on January 5th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Literary, Crime, Family Life
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
five-stars

From the New York Times bestselling author of Midwives and The Sandcastle Girls comes the spellbinding tale of a party gone horribly wrong: two men lie dead in a suburban living room; two women are on the run from police; and a marriage is ripping apart at the seams.
     When Richard Chapman offers to host his younger brother's bachelor party, he expects a certain amount of debauchery. He sends his wife, Kristin, and young daughter off to his mother-in-law's for the weekend, and he opens his Westchester home to his brother's friends and their hired entertainment. What he does not expect is this: bacchanalian drunkenness, a dangerously intimate moment in his guest bedroom, and two naked women stabbing and killing their Russian bodyguards before driving off into the night. In the aftermath, Richard's life rapidly spirals into a nightmare. The police throw him out of his home, now a crime scene; his investment banking firm puts him on indefinite leave; and his wife finds herself unable to forgive him for the moment he shared with a dark-haired girl in the guest room. But the dark-haired girl, Alexandra, faces a much graver danger. In one breathless, violent night, she is free, running to escape the police who will arrest her and the gangsters who will kill her in a heartbeat. A captivating, chilling story about shame and scandal, The Guest Room is a riveting novel from one of our greatest storytellers.

the guest room cropMY THOUGHTS

What happens when a momentary lapse of judgement that can change your life?  something that will cost Richard everything when he decides to host his brother, Philip’s bachelor party. Philip is nothing like his upstanding brother who is married with a daughter and a successful Wall Street career.  Richard convinces his wife, Kristin, that it will just be a party with a couple of strippers and won’t last more than a couple of hours.  That all goes out the window when Philip’s friend, Spencer, hires a Russian gangster to supply the girls.  One of the girls, Sonja, decides to take out her “keepers” and escape with the other girl Alexandra.

The story alternates the point of view between Richard and Alexandra and how that intersects with Philip and Kristin. I was heartbroken while reading Alexandra’s story and how she was tricked into a life of prostitution.  If you don’t understand what is happening with the grimy underworld of sex workers, this book will open your eyes.  Yes, Richard’s brother Philip is a slimy character and Spencer is quite possibly the slimiest of all when he tries to extort Richard to pay for his lawyer since everyone at the party is suing him.  I know it seems like I have given away the plot but the whole thing is summarized in the first three pages but the story covers the aftermath of the party and the deaths.

I have enjoyed all of Bohjalian’s books that I have read and he always goes to the top of my list when it comes to my book group.  There are so many themes to discuss and argue over.  The characters are so well-developed and so subtly that by the end of the book it feels like the Chapmans are your neighbors.  Bohjalian’s books always seem to be ripped out of future headlines.  He reminds me a lot of Jodi Picoult that he takes current hot topics and frames them in a relatable way.

chris bojalian

About the Author

Chris Bohjalian is the author of seventeen books, including Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands, arriving July 8, 2014 from Doubleday.

His other books include such New York Times bestsellers as The Light in the Ruins, The Sandcastle Girls, The Night Strangers, Secrets of Eden, Skeletons at the Feast, The Double Bind, Before Your Know Kindness, and Midwives.

Chris’s awards include the ANCA Arts and Letters Award for The Sandcastle Girls, as well as the Saint Mesrob Mashdots Medal; the New England Society Book Award for The Night Strangers; the New England Book Award; a Boston Public Library Literary Light; and the Anahid Literary Award. His novel, Midwives, was a number one New York Times bestseller, a selection of Oprah’s Book Club, and a New England Booksellers Association Discovery pick. His earlier novels have been selected as “Best Books of the Year” by the Washington Post, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Hartford Courant, Publishers’ Weekly, and Salon. His work had been translated into over 25 languages and three times become movies (Secrets of Eden, Midwives, and Past the Bleachers).

He has written for a wide variety of magazines, including Cosmopolitan, Reader’s Digest, and the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine, and has been a columnist for Gannett’s Burlington Free Press since 1992. Chris graduated from Amherst College, and lives in Vermont with his wife and daughter.

You can learn more about him on the Q and A on www.chrisbohjalian.com, as well as on Facebook .  And, if you like, follow him on twitter as well.

WANT TO WIN A COPY?

Giveaway Ends 1. 12.16 and open to all who can legally enter.
US only – must be over 18 or have your parents permission to enter.
An email will be sent and you have 48 hours to reply or a new winner will be chosen.
Winner will be announced within 48 hours at the end of the giveaway. Giveaway is organized by Bookhounds and sponsored by the publisher
It has no affiliation with Facebook, Twitter or any other entitiy.
Void where prohibited.
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five-stars