Tag Archives: Fiction

Review: The Invaders

The Invaderrs

The Invaders
By Karolina Waclawiak
Regan Arts, Hardcover, 9781941393291, July 2015, 240pp.

The Short of It:

No calm water here. This beach-front community is on the verge of ruin and the frenetic energy of its characters comes bursting out in strange and unusual ways.

The Rest of It:

The story revolves around the inhabitants of a country-club community located along the Connecticut shoreline. Beach-front properties, club houses, sparkling pools filled with forty-something-year-old women trying to look good for anyone who will look at them, and the disgusting tourists that force themselves upon the beach with their dirty little dogs and whiny kids. Yes, it’s a story of US versus THEM and although it’s a little strange to follow, it’s just so juicy to read.

The story is told in alternating points of view between Cheryl and her adult stepson, Teddy. Cheryl is married to Teddy’s father Jeffrey. Cheryl is Jeffrey’s second wife. Although she was a trophy wife when she first moved in, ten years has aged her and her relationship with Jeffrey is hardly a relationship at all. With him gone all the time for work, Cheryl spends her days gardening, taking long walks and paying far too much attention to what is going on in the so-called community.

Teddy, is Cheryl’s adult stepson who returns home after getting booted out of college. He’s hooked on painkillers, sex and seems intent on making poor choices but there’s a sadness to Teddy that you can’t ignore and when he and Cheryl begin to fall apart at the same time but in totally different ways, it’s impossible to know what will happen.

The Invaders puts you right in the middle of the story. I could smell the sea air, hear the water splashing and feel the tension of that tight-knit community along with all of its airs and affluence and yes, sadness. There is much sadness in-between these pages. There’s also,  a rawness to the story that leaves you a little off kilter.

It’s hard to like anyone in this novel. Everyone is stripped down and flayed bare but the complexities between the characters and the struggles they have within their own lives is what makes them so interesting.

I’ve never read a book that I liked and hated as much as this one. I’d flip a page and hate it and then I’d read a paragraph and love it again. I kept going back and forth like that throughout the entire book! In the end, I think I’m safe in saying that it impressed me but that ending! Boy!

This book may have a beach setting but it’s not a lighthearted read. It’s filled with desperate people who really just want to be loved. It’s dreadful but at the same time, so good.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Norwegian by Night

Norwegian by Night

Norwegian by Night
By Derek B. Miller
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), Hardcover, 9780547934877, May 2013, 304pp.

The Short of It:

True, this story is considered crime fiction but it’s wrapped in memory and heartache and has a great protagonist that you can’t help but root for.

The Rest of It:

Sheldon Horowitz, a former Marine sniper in the Korean War, now widowed at 82, agrees to leave New York to live with his granddaughter Rhea and her husband Lars, in Norway.

Norway is foreign to Sheldon in a lot of ways. He misses his old life in New York, his wife of many years, Mabel and the son he lost in the Vietnam War, Saul. But Sheldon’s biggest problem in Norway is the dementia that is slowly taking hold him. In his mind, the memories of his former life are crisp and so real that he loses track of what’s real and what’s not.

One day, alone in his apartment, he opens his door to a woman and child in distress and that begins his trek across the country.

When I pitched this book to my book club over a year ago, it was more of a crap shoot than anything because it’s not the kind of book we typically pitch.  At the time, we had not really read crime fiction for the club before and it’s been a really long time since we’ve read a book with an older protagonist. So, I took a chance and I’m glad I did.

It was a surprisingly good read. Full of heart and yes, a little bit of sadness but with it being crime fiction and all, it was also a page turner, which is good for this time of the year when you are wrapping up loose ends and just want kick back with a good book.

Sheldon Horowitz is a character that will stay with me for a very long time. He’s smart, has spunk, is loving and understanding when he needs to be but he’s also strong-willed and opinionated which makes for some colorful conversations. When his loved ones are put in peril, his body seems to know what to do even though he is 82 years old and not the man he used to be, at least not physically. I seriously adored him.

Have you read Norwegian by Night or heard of it?  I heard of it for the first time last year but it’s gotten quite a bit of publicity:

An ECONOMIST TOP FICTION TITLE OF THE YEAR
A FINANCIAL TIMES BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
A GUARDIAN BEST CRIME AND THRILLER OF THE YEAR
A KIRKUS REVIEWS BEST CRIME NOVEL OF THE YEAR

It will be interesting to hear what the club has to say about it. On the surface it feels like there is not enough to discuss but I suspect that there is since it touches on so many different topics (war, dementia, aging, Miller’s handling of past and present and his use of fantastical elements to tell the story).

It’s a great book to end the year with.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.