Still Life

Synopsis: (as told by the back of the book)

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his team of investigators are called to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montreal and yet a world away.  Jane Neal, a local fixture in the tiny hamlet of Three Pines, has been found dead in the woods on Thanksgiving morning.  The locals are certain it’s a tragic hunting accident and nothing more, but Gamache smells something foul this holiday season… Continue reading


Synopsis: (as told by the back of the book)

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father.  Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval – the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show – are over. Continue reading


Synopsis: (as told by the back of the book)

It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all visible evidence of her small-town roots.  Now working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has a thriving career, a modern apartment, and her pick of meaningless one-night stands.   Continue reading


Thank you, FSG Originals, for this copy of Catalina by Liska Jacobs.  All thoughts and images are my own.

Synopsis: (as told by the back of the book)

Elsa Fisher is headed for rock bottom.  At least, that’s her plan.  She has just been fired from MoMA on the heels of an affair with her married boss, and she retreats to Los Angeles to blow her severance package on whatever it takes to numb the pain.  Her abandoned crew of college friends receives Elsa with open arms and a plan to celebrate their reunion on a booze-soaked sailing trip to Catalina Island.  

But Elsa doesn’t want to celebrate.  She is lost, lonely, and full of rage, and wants only to sink as low as the drugs and alcohol will take her.  On Catalina, her determined unraveling and recklessness expose painful memories and dark desires, putting everyone in the group at risk.

Morgan’s thoughts:

There are few characters in the history of books that I have hated more than I hated Elsa.  She was destructive and selfish – Jacobs blesses her with a keen sense of insight, which only makes it all the more horrible when she ignores her intelligent perceptions of the people around her and hurts them anyway.

No one ever addresses her dependency on alcohol and drugs in any real way; throughout the novel, she interacts with her mother, her lover, her ex-husband, and her closest friends from childhood and college.  The most anyone says is her ex-husband noticing that she is on “another bender.”  Everyone acknowledges how intoxicated she is the entire time but no one seems concerned about the effect this is most likely having on her body.

I found this book painful with no payoff.  Want to form your own opinions?  Find it here on Amazon or at your local independent bookstore, and then let’s compare.

Manhattan Beach

Synopsis: (as told by the back of the book)

“We’re going to see the sea.”

Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to visit Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her family.  She is mesmerized by the seat beyond the house and by some charged mystery between the two men. Continue reading