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Shadows and Ghosts

Title: Shadows and Ghosts
Author: Barbara Froman
Publisher: Serving House
Publication Date: December 14, 2011
ISBN: 9780983828921
Number of Pages: 250
How I Got It: from author

Goodreads Summary:
Ida Mae Glick, a critically acclaimed filmmaker, has lived and taught in the small town of Willow Bend, New York for five years without drawing attention to her troubled past. But when she suffers a near fatal heart attack, the result of trying to live on the same meager rations as a group of homeless people she is filming, she winds up in intensive care under the scrutiny of a neurotic psychiatrist who believes she's unstable. To make matters worse, her mother's ghost has appeared at her bedside with old gripes, and her angry, estranged identical twin, Lisa, is heading toward town intent on having her committed. Ida Mae is desperate to escape with her freedom intact, but knows she'll have to get past her psychiatrist first. The only question is, can she? Shadows and Ghosts is Ida Mae's tale of artistic passion, fierce sibling rivalry, failed love affairs, substance abuse, and the magical redemptive power of cinema.
My Review:
Let me say first off that this book is the perfect example of why you should not judge a book by its cover! The cover would lead a reader to believe the story is a paranormal thriller or horror story when  it is a story of an artist literally starving for her art. I also think this is a perfect example of why the genre of women's fiction is so broad. While most generally think chick lit is synonymous with women's fiction, it is refreshing to read a perfect example of non-chick lit women's fiction. Barbara Froman created characters that are relatable and real. These women are psychiatrists and artists dealing with familial guilt and personal addictions. While producing a documentary on homelessness, Ida chooses to embrace the lifestyle of her subjects, including minimal eating, which leads to her passing out in a grocery store. Waking up in a hospital under the care of a psychiatrist, Ida begins to share her past demons as well as her encounters with her deceased mother. Believing her mother's ghost is a resulting hallucination of her personal deprivation, Ida is in no hurry to return to her prior state but knows she must be cleared by Fern in order to be released. But Ida's twin sister Lisa contacts Fern and requests that her sister be committed due to her previous alcoholism. While Ida did indeed have problems with alcohol, Lisa's true concern lies in her husband Max's fascination with his sister-in-law. Beyond this intense triangle, Froman provides the most perfectly written mothers (Ida and Lisa's Jewish mother and Fern's overly dependent mother.) The power of these women on their daughters is the most realistic depiction of generational guilt I have ever read. Fern works through her strained relationship with her mother and ex-boyfriend by learning from Ida. This novel is a wonderful example of a women's fiction piece that digs a little deeper than other novels within its genre. 

** I received this book in exchange for an honest review ** 

Bellman & Black

Title: Bellman & Black
Author: Diane Setterfield
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Publication Date: November 5, 2013
ISBN: 9781476712000
Number of Pages: 305
How I Got It: NetGalley

NetGalley Summary:

Caught up in a moment of boyhood competition, William Bellman recklessly aims his slingshot at a rook resting on a branch, killing the bird instantly. It is a small but cruel act, and is soon forgotten. By the time he is grown, with a wife and children of his own, William seems to have put the whole incident behind him. It was as if he never killed the thing at all. But rooks don’t forget . . . 

Years later, when a stranger mysteriously enters William’s life, his fortunes begin to turn—and the terrible and unforeseen consequences of his past indiscretion take root. In a desperate bid to save the only precious thing he has left, he enters into a rather strange bargain, with an even stranger partner. Together, they found a decidedly macabre business. 

And Bellman & Black is born.

My Review: 
I was so excited to get my hands on this and so thankful to be given an e-ARC from NetGalley. I loved Diane Setterfield's previous novel, The Thirteenth Tale, and had high expectations for Bellman & Black. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. The foreshadowing of William Bellman killing the rook drew me in and I expected great consequences. While death touches everyone around him, Bellman is oblivious to his personal robust health. Throwing himself into the mill's success as well as his other business ventures, the majority of the story focuses on Bellman's hard work and financial rise. He uses every single minute in the day and Setterfield details and repeats this fact....to a fault. A majority of the story consists of Bellman's daily minutiae and is mind numbingly dull. Setterfield would have done well to give a more outrageous ending or supply a quick turn of events resulting in a frenzied rush to finish reading the story. Instead, her set-up falls flat and I wish I would have quit this book when I had my first doubts a few chapters in. 

***I received this book in exchange for an honest review***