Category Archives: Amy Einhorn Books

Book Review: The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye

Title: The Gods of Gotham
Author: Lyndsay Faye
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books
ISBN: 978-0399158377
Genre: Thriller, Crime Fiction
Pages: 432
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

It is not easy to write a good thriller and a crime novel. All the elements need to be in place – the setting, the place, the characters and the crime but of course. Everything to the finest detail – after all nothing can go amiss in such type of a genre. This is what Lyndsay Faye has effortlessly achieved in her book, “The Gods of Gotham”.

The book is set in mid-nineteenth-century New York. The city is in shambles. We are talking about 1845 New York. The Great Potato Famine had struck Ireland and thousands of Irish Catholics were surfacing in New York, adding religious turmoil to the already volatile city. There is political upheaval and radicalism. Everything seems to be changing in the city and the story is wrapped around the founding of New York City’s first police department (The Copper Stars) and the recruit and protagonist in question – Timothy Wilde.

Wilde is a luckless man. At 27, he is unlucky in love, works at a small Manhattan oyster bar, till the Great Fire (another important angle to the story) destroys his workplace, leaving him penniless and without a job. His politically connected brother gets him a job in the newly constituted police force and that’s where Timothy’s story starts off. He hopes for a career, till he stumbles on a blood-drenched child and only discovers that there is more to what meets the eye and sets out to solve the crime. With this he faces a lot of problems – both political and personal and of course solves the crimes of children being exploited by the end of the book.

The Gods of Gotham is a taut and nicely written book. To set a novel in the past is quite challenging, what is more so is to synchronize the story with the characters’ mindset and how they would behave in that culture.

The book is layered with several sub-plots: Timothy’s relationship with his brother Valentine, his devotion to his sweetheart Mercy Underhill, and more so his relationship with New York City, which Faye has done a fantastic job of describing. There were times while reading this book that I had to look up Google Images to see what New York would have looked like in those times and the descriptions could not be truer.

The mystery in the book keeps the reader going and thinking. Wilde is a likeable narrator and a competent detective for sure. Faye has managed to make him come into his own without overshadowing the other characters in the book – from the whorehouse madam to Mercy’s father to other policemen and the engaging child Bird. New York as a major part (or character) of the book, is always standing tall in the background adding the much-needed life and period-specific texture to the book.

The Gods of Gotham will keep you to the edge of your seat. It is feisty and also thrilling, describing life in 1845 at its grittiest best and paced excellently. There is a sequel in the offing and I cannot wait for it.

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Book Review: If Jack’s in Love by Stephen Wetta

Title: If Jack’s in Love
Author: Stephen Wetta
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books, Plume
ISBN: 9780399157523
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 358
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

If Jack’s in Love is not another coming of age book. While it seems to be one of the same genre, it isn’t one of those. Having said that, it is also not a book for children. Young Adults can definitely read it, as it is meant for them, however not for kids.

The story starts in suburban Virginia in the late 60’s. The narrator but obviously is Jack – who is a bright and basically good kid who has a tough time being accepted by his peers because of his father and older brother Stan’s antics about town. Amidst this, a murder of a local boy takes place for which Stan is accused. Jack is in love with the dead boy’s sister. Jack has no one to turn to but the local jeweler Moses Gladstein for advice and stability.

The problem that could have taken place while writing the book would have been the setting; however that comes across quite convincingly in this book. Stephen Wetta grew up in the 60’s, so it becomes very easy for him to depict a teenager’s life in those times.

I liked the plot, though at times it did get a little dark for me. I loved the perceptive voice of Jack growing up and seeing the world with a fresh perspective. The characters are brilliantly drawn from the Southern society of those times and linger with you long after you have finished reading the book.

Jack’s dreams and fears are beautifully chronicled; they almost become a part of you when you read. Stephen Wetta doesn’t come across as a debut writer. It seems as though he has been at this craft for years now. This is one of the books that looks at the dark side of life and also embraces the joy it brings in unexpected places.

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Book Review: What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

Title: What Alice Forgot
Author: Liane Moriarty
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books, Putnam
ISBN: 9780399157189
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 423
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

29-year old Alice thinks she has it all. A great marriage, a pregnancy on the way, a great relationship with her sister Elisabeth and everything that a woman can ever hope for. If only that were the case for her, then this book would turn out very differently. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty begins on this note, and shocks the reader. Alice is 39 years of age. Her marriage is falling apart. She has three children. Her relationship with her sister is not what she thought it is. She has forgotten ten years of her life. Thus begins this novel.

The 39 year old Alice obviously then turns out be very different from the 29 year old one she thought herself to be. Something had gone wrong in Alice’s life to let her reach this stage of her life, where nothing makes sense. All of this comes to surface, however not as quickly as one would expect. What I liked was how it was revealed to the reader: Through flashes of memory that Alice has. It was cleverly done by Liane.

The book is written in the third person and it is required then for such a story. There are also parts from Alice’s point of view which is much needed when the story is based on the protagonist. Then there are Elisabeth’s parts which are in the form of a journal. This got me a bit confused, however once I got the hang of it, I was fine.

The premise of the book is definitely racy, and at the same time it manages to slow down when needed. Alice is charming, likeable and also funny at times, and yet Liane Moriarty does not turn this to a beach read, which could have easily been the case. The book also is suspenseful but in the right doses. It does not frustrate the reader. And before you know it, there is also infertility as a sub-plot, which took me by surprise and further added to the story.

All in all for me, What Alice Forgot was a great read this year. A lot is happening in this book and it isn’t easy to start with, however the book unravels itself beautifully for the reader not to get lost. The novel made me at least evaluate my life – looking back and seeing what I had and what I have now. The personal element is required from every book I think. In some way or the other. I would definitely recommend this book to one and all.

Book Review: The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

Title: The Weird Sisters
Author: Eleanor Brown
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books, Putnam, Penguin Group
ISBN: 978-0-399-15722-6
Genre: Literary Fiction
Price: $24.95 (Hardcover Format)
PP: 318 pages
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

So comes along a book once in a while which is every booklover’s delight – it is about reading and books and family that reads and about three sisters who love each other but do not like each other. This is one of those books which I finished in one sitting (well almost) and there was so much I wanted to say while reading it, however now I am writing what I feel like at the end of the book. For me, “The Weird Sisters” by Eleanor Brown was a read that is one amongst the many – closest to my heart as at the core it has to do with the love of reading.

While the story may seem pretty simple, it isn’t. There are layers to the writing and that is what every reader (at least I) likes in a book. There has to be that substance that keeps you glued to the book and The Weird Sisters has that and more in abundance. The Shakespearean sisters – Rosalind, Bianca and Cordelia (named after their father – a renowned Shakespeare professor) return home to their parents, after their mother is diagnosed with cancer. Each has come back with their own baggage – their own fears and insecurities and that’s when the past blends with the present to surprising consequences.

From a personal standpoint, I loved the book. Almost every aspect of it. That is also because the book resonated with me for a very long time, as a reader of books. The idea of combining an-almost-close-to-dysfunctional-family with books is marvellous and I lapped every page of it. It isn’t so much about the books mentioned or the several Shakespearean references (which were obviously bound to happen), but the way it is written that sometimes took my breath away. For instance, I clearly remember this one on Page 70: “How can we explain what books and reading mean to our family, the gift of libraries, of pages?” To also the extent that one of them broke-up with a man, because he wouldn’t read and I totally get that sentiment. All readers do.  

The writing style is lucid and brilliant. It makes you turn the pages more so, as the narrator/s is/are all the three sisters. Their lives are spread out like a feast for us – readers and writers alike. The book spoke to me on many levels – it made me look back at my relationship with my siblings, what we were and what we have become to understanding my passion with reading better and reaching a deeper place with it.

The Weird Sisters is a remarkable debut by a writer who knows what words can do and the power they contain. At places it did not seem like it was her first book. It felt like Ms. Brown knew what she was doing like the back of her hand. For me it was one of the best books for sure that I have read in 2011. Make it yours as well. Read it for the pure pleasure of reading.

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The Weird Sisters

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