September 11, 2022

Short & Sweet: The Silence of Bones

The Silence of Bones by June Hur

1800s Korea and the persecution of Catholics was an entirely new setting/topic for me, and I appreciated learning about it through the eyes of Seol, who was an engaging narrator. I did find it hard to keep track of all the characters and their connections throughout the story (I wish there'd been a character list provided!). 
There was a long section in the middle of this book that dragged, but the ending made up for it, pulling things together and feeling finished without being overly happy or artificial. While the middle lulled, the intensity ratcheted up in the last several chapters, making it hard to put down at that point. 

All in all, a different sort of historical murder mystery from most of the offerings in YA, and well worth the read as long as you are willing to be patient.

4 shooting stars.

Short & Sweet: Big Lies in a Small Town (Adult)

Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

I found the first two-thirds of this book quite slow -- it's a dual timeline story, and I was enjoying Morgan's voice from the contemporary timeline, but nothing much was happening in either era. Then there's a big event that occurs in the historical timeline about two-thirds of the way through, and after that the historical timeline held more interest for me. The premise stands out as being a bit different from your average mystery -- the art restoration was a neat element -- but it is definitely not a suspense/thriller type read. It's a much quieter, secrets-hidden-are-slowly-revealed sort of story. Also, some of the reveals are pretty guessable. I was motivated to keep reading once I got to the last 
third of the book, as I wanted to see how everything played out, but in a sea of dual timeline mysteries, this would not be one of my top recommendations. The best part about it was really the focus on art, and art restoration, which made it more memorable than it would have been otherwise.

3 shooting stars.

Short & Sweet: The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Starr is a relatable protagonist with a distinct voice, who draws the reader into her world and the injustices (arising from systemic racism and discrimination) her community faces on a daily basis. Despite having a different background than Starr, I was easily able to connect to her character, her troubles, and her deep desire to make change happen. There were a lot of side characters in the story, and some (such as Starr's brother Seven, who was a favourite of mine) were more fleshed out than others; it was difficult for me to keep track of all the characters at times. The other stumbling block I had was that most of the story is made up of conversations, so it felt quite slow-moving to me. Plot-wise, events do pick up towards the end, but I do think that perhaps some of the conversations could have been shortened/cut, as there is some repetition of content. 

Overall, I think this book does an excellent job of giving non-Black readers a better understanding of what it is like to be a Black person living in the US.

3.5 shooting stars.

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