Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Book of Secrets




The Book of Secrets by Elizabeth Joy Arnold is simply amazing. It is indeed a story chock full of secrets and just as you think you are piecing one section together, it changes or adds another dimension to the overall puzzle.

The story is told by Chloe Tyler, a woman who owns a bookstore with her husband Nate. Upon Nate's sudden trip to see his sister, Chloe finds a secret coded book. As she decodes it, finding Nate's innermost stories and life, we see her as a young girl who has only her mother, never knowing anything about her father. She meets the children of the Sinclair family, Grace, Nate, and Cecilia, and soon becomes entranced in their fairy tale life. They have books, imaginations, and a mother who homeschools and participates in their lives fully everyday. What young Chloe doesn't fully see, and couldn't fully understand, are the secrets the fairy tales hide. Secrets that will haunt her from the day she enters their home until the last page of the book, approximately 27 years later.

Any story with secrets and twist endings is bound to have potential and suspense, but may not necessarily be well written or well executed. For example, although I somewhat enjoyed the Maze Runner books by James Dashner, it soon became obvious every book was going to end with many more questions than answers. Answers that ended up vague and/or unsatisfying. Not so with The Book of Secrets. Arnold grips you with suspense from the first page and intricately weaves the pieces of the overall secret throughout the story. The reader is left to literally put the pieces together in his or her mind as he or she reads, each satisfying piece leaving the reader craving the next. And as the end draws near, everything you pieced together falls apart.

Some criticism I've read of this book says that the characters are over dramatic and it seems unlikely they'd live so long without working through some of their issues. However, anyone who has a broadened experience with the public outside their own little bubble can tell you how bitterness and grudge will eat a person up and that abused people can suffer way beyond the abusive time period itself.

The Books of Secrets is a worthwhile read! Any other good books about secrets you've read and recommend? 

14 comments:

  1. Book stores and codes and twists!?! I'm sold!

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    1. A criticism I've read about the book being about books is that the use of books in the story is contrived. That the author mentions lots of books but they don't seem to fit. I don't think it was that bad...the characters grew up hiding in the land of books because their lives were unbearable.

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  2. I absolutely loved this book, Jennine! It's probably one of my favourite Netgalley picks. I actually would consider reading it again!

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    1. Yes! Have you read any criticisms of it on Goodreads or Amazon? I'd be interested in what you would say in response.

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    2. I'm going to check that now...

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  3. You sold me with mentioning that the main character owns a bookstore. :)

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    1. Warning: they don't spend much time in the bookstore, although there's a great description of it. But they do a lot of book talk.

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  4. Ooh I like the sound of this! Plus, I'm kind of swooning over the cover.
    Ashley (Closed the Cover)

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    1. The cover is pretty enticing. That definitely drew me to it as well!

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  5. Jennine, this is a really fabulous review. I love how you gave The Maze Runner comparison, because it truly helps me understand how this book differs. Thanks! Fab review, and I'm also so happy that you were able to use the picture on the link party this week!!!

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    1. Thanks! I messed with the iPad and Blogger's settings until I figured out how to download the pic like you suggested! It worked :)

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  6. Kate Morton's books are always full of devastating secrets. The Distant Hours was probably my favourite. I saw the other day that Diane Setterfield (author of The Thirteenth Tale) has a new book out, Bellman & Black that sounds intriguing.

    Another excellent review - might have to add this one to the list!

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    1. Yes, I just read a review of Bellman & Black. There's a give away too. Here's the link I tweeted for it: http://www.closedthecover.com/18/post/2013/10/new-giveaway-bellman-black.html

      Not sure if the giveaway is still going on.

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    2. Clarification, it's a paperback ARC of the book and there's 12 days left!

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