The Book Mark

Books that make the grade.

Tag Archives: Garth Stein

The Year in Review


I can’t believe it’s time to wrap up another year. By my count, I’ve read about fifty books this year; there were surprises, winners and losers. I am not going to review but just list those that impressed me this year.


So let me start with some of my favorites:

A Sudden Light by Garth Stein tops the list. The author of The Art of Dancing in the Rain has a mystical way of writing that makes reading his books an absolute pleasure.

Longbourn by Jo Baker really caught my attention because Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite classics.

One that I received in exchange for a review, Till The Well Runs Dry by Lauren Francis-Sharma was a trip to India in a well-written story.

Sarah Jio, always a favorite of mine, once again makes the list with Morning Glory. This was on last year’s wish list and wishes do come true.

Troika by Adam Pelzmar spanned the globe from Russia to the United States with a surprisingly good story.

One of my favorite “favorites” was Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore. This one kept me thinking long after the last page. I encourage you to read my review and consider it strongly when you next choose a book.

Unfortunately there were books that make the not so favorite list:

Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield was another on last year’s wish list. Now I wish it hadn’t been. I found her writing extremely disappointing especially after loving The Thirteenth Tale so much.

Another on that wish list was The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan. Amy, what happened here??????

A title that you have seen on all the “best” lists this year doesn’t make my “best” but rather my “least” list. A Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, honestly I don’t know what all the fuss is about.

Simply ridiculous is what I’d say about A Storied Life of A. J. Firky by Gabrielle Zevin. I was expecting something good here but one again was disappointed.

Lastly, Away by Amy Bloom didn’t even get reviewed.


There you have it. 2014 summed up, page by page. I wish you all a very happy and healthy New Year filled with adventure, romance and suspense. Thank you for following The Book Mark. I look forward to reading and reviewing in 2015.

A Sudden Light


As I write this it’s Halloween Eve and the right time for ghost stories. A Sudden Light (A+) by Garth Stein sucked me in and didn’t let go until I was totally convinced that ghosts exist.

The author of The Art of Racing in the Rain (A) certainly knows how to approach a story from an odd angle. This time the narrator isn’t a dying dog but rather a young man who has contact with ghosts.

Trevor Riddell and his father have traveled to Seattle where the Riddell family’s decrepit estate lies on acres and acres overlooking the Puget Sound. The mansion was built from the trees that lived surrounding the estate. The family fortune was made from lumber taken from the nearby forest. Trevor and his Dad have arrived to convince his Alzheimer riddled grandfather to sign a power of attorney so that they can sell the land to real estate developers thus restoring the family’s wealth. The house and its former occupants have something to say about this and it’s Trevor who is clued in to their wishes by visits he has with ancestral ghosts. The ghosts have a story to tell, one that can’t be ignored. In order for Trevor to be successful, he has to convince his Dad, his Aunt Serena (who has her own agenda) and of course, Grandpa Samuel that the promise made all those years ago must be kept.

Without a doubt the writing here is incredible. Stein lures the reader into the depths of the family issue by building the story bit by bit. The reader along with Trevor has a mystery to unravel. We become his cheerleader while deciphering each clue given until the “truth” prevails and if this weren’t enough a love story is woven into the telling.  I literally abandoned all chores yesterday in order to just sit and read the book till its conclusion. I became so involved I felt as though I were living the story instead of reading it. Bravo Garth Stein!!!!!! You have done it again.

Obviously I highly recommend you read this one. The fact that I read it at Halloween only enhanced the drama but believe me you will thoroughly enjoy this no matter the day. Just don’t plan on doing anything necessary because you won’t be able to leave Riddell house.