The Cottage at Glass Beach by Heather Barbieri
Two copies landed on my doorstep, and I am happy to have the opportunity to to give away one of them! Since the shipping will be out of my pocket’s money, this unfortunately means this giveaway is only opened to people in the US and Canada (but I promise to have something open for everyone soon!)
From the book’s jacket :
Humiliated and hounded by the press, Nora packs up her daughters and takes refuge on Burke’s Island, off the coast of Maine. Settled by Irish immigrants, the island is a place where superstition and magic are carried on the ocean winds, and wishes and dreams wash ashore with the changing tides.
Nora spent her first five years on the island but has not been back to the remote community for decades–not since that long ago summer when her mother disappeared at sea. One night while sitting alone on Glass Beach below the cottage where she spent her childhood, Nora succumbs to grief, her tears flowing into the ocean. Days later she finds an enigmatic fisherman named Owen Kavanagh shipwrecked on the rocks nearby. Is he, as her aunt’s friend Polly suggests, a selkie–a mythical being of island legend–summoned by her heartbreak, or simply someone who, like Nora, is trying to find his way in the wake of his own personal struggles?
My Thoughts :
The Cottage at Glass Beach was a very pleasant read. It has a soft, quiet quality to it and from the start gives you a hint of magical realism. Burke’s Island is rich in history, and I found the numerous characters to be all equally intriguing; as Nora, Ella and Annie (Nora’s daughters) meet them, I wanted to know more about them and their life on the island.
There’s also a beautiful mix of styles; the book isn’t straight romance, and in fact I would say it mostly isn’t about the romance. There’s the mystery of Nora’s mother’s disappearance, the story of Maire (the aunt they are living with), the family aspects, the mystery of Owen, etc. While the book isn’t a mystery novel, there are enough unanswered questions to keep you guessing all along.
While I loved the setting and enjoyed the story, there were two aspects that kept me from truly loving the book. The first was my inability to connect to Nora. I felt for her, sure, but I was unable to reach over that wall that exists between reader and character and really understand her. That was a bit unfortunate since she was the main character, and I am not sure where the fault is since I actually liked the author’s writing, which I found to be poetic in places. The second point was Nora’s daughters. Again, I understood they were going through a lot, but I had a hard time sympathizing with them, especially Ella. Also, I found their conversations to be a bit too adult-like, and until I went back, confused, to reread the first few pages, I actually thought they were both teenagers.
This being said, I mostly enjoyed the book. I went through it quite quickly and its dreamy, mysterious atmosphere stayed with me thorough the days. It reminded me how much I love magical realism, and it was nicely done here. The story gave me a taste of summer and made me wish I could go hang on the beach, too!
In the end, while it wasn’t a perfect read, I closed the book feeling satisfied. I would definitely read more of this author – which is great since I already have one of her books on my ereader!
Thanks to TLC Book Tours for giving me the opportunity to review The Cottage at Glass Beach!
Filling the Shelf is basically Mailbox Monday or the more recent Stacking the Shelves, but with a title that suits my blog! If you’re interested in joining the fun or seeing what other bloggers added to their shelves, I invite you to visit the two hosts!
Good day to you, readers!
It’s a good thing that blogging isn’t done using your voice, because I lost mine this weekend. I’m thinking I may have accidentally slipped it into one of the boxes, since we packed most of the books for our move! The shelves look so empty and sad now; I can’t wait to be in our new place to unpack them all – you just know it’s the first thing I will do! Who needs dishes and towels when you can have books?
It’s sort of funny to me to see new books arrive as I am packing the older ones. It’s like an incessant flow of paper through the door! Not complaining about it, for sure!
Here are my new additions, a mix of fiction and YA; it was very exciting on the YA side as If I Should Die and Light conclude their respective series, and The Eternity Cure was a sequel I was really looking forward to (even though I still haven’t reviewed the first book)!
What did you add to your shelves recently?
From the book’s jacket :
My Thoughts :
When I read The Way We Fall last year, it was one of my favorite post-apocalytic novel of 2012. I loved the quiet pace, the introspective aspect of the narration, the gloomy atmosphere and the absence of the typical love triangle. It made the book feel more realistic and mature, and I was excited to see where the story would go from there.
The Lives We Lost took a bit of a different route; from the start, the danger is more present as the characters find themselves on the road. If the danger is a constant in their lives, I wouldn’t say the novel is packed with action. There’s more happening than in the first novel, but I still felt it was a slow story (in a nice way). The characters are faced with some very hard decisions, difficult circumstances and unfathomable consequences. It’s harsh, but realistic.
What I liked less was the addition of the love triangle. It was sort of predictable, with Kaelyn’s best friend coming back into the picture after so long, but I could have done without. To be clear though, the novel isn’t heavy with romance; Kaelyn and her friends have a lot more important things to think about. But the hints are there, often enough to have annoyed me. Can’t we have a young adult trilogy without some geometric love story? Does everyone really find themselves into those? It never happened to me, and I don’t think I’m such a unique specimen, you know?
Anyway, I liked The Lives We Lost, even though I thought parts of the plot felt a bit forced or predictable. But these aspects are well balanced with positive ones : new characters that add to the story’s complexity, a well developed world-building that expands outside the island, an adventurous story with lots of suspense.
Also, can I say “Yay!” for the Canadian setting? I have absolutely nothing against my american neighbors (quite the contrary!), but it is so fun and refreshing to be reading a post-apocalyptic novel in a setting I know at least a little!
I will absolutely be reading the next book. I have a long wait ahead of me though, as The Worlds We Make is planned for February 2014. Sigh! But for those of you who like not to wait too much between each book, it means now is the perfect time to start the series!
Series Reading Order :
- The Way We Fall
- The Lives We Lost
- The Worlds We Make (coming February 2014)