Tuesday, September 29, 2009

brief book review & GIVEAWAY: Rhodi Hawk's A TWISTED LADDER

This past weekend at SIBA, I listened to author Rhodi Hawk discuss her debut novel, A Twisted Ladder. Of the 40+ books I acquired at SIBA, this is the first one I picked up to read once I got home, and that's mainly because it sounded like nothing I'd read before.  Hawk's 540-page book is by turns mesmerizing and eerie and thought-provoking.  I suspect its haunting, lyrical questions about relationships, identity, and the power of the mind will linger.

Here's the description from the back of the book:

Psychologist Madeleine LeBlanc has spent her whole career trying to determine the cause of her father's schizophrenia. She always felt that if she could unravel the disease's origins, she could cure the man who left her and her brother, Marc, to practically raise themselves on the Louisiana Bayou.  When Marc takes his own life, Madeleine embarks on a shocking journey into her family's history--fraught with dark secrets, conjured demons, and a powerful relative who puts Madeleine's own life and property in peril. The only way she can save herself is to face the ghosts of the past, the dangers of the present, and the twisted ladder that links them all together.
The imagery in A Twisted Ladder conjures realistic snapshopts of the bayou, both antebellum and prohibition-era Louisiana, and post-Katrina New Orleans.  I'm not an Anne Rice fan, but I hear she's an influence on Hawk's writing (and other reviewers claim that Rice fans will be Hawk fans).

I recommend this book to fans of psychological thrillers, well-written scifi, magic realism, and Southern gothicism.  People who are interested in the human brain and its mysterious functioning will also have a great adventure with A Twisted Ladder.

Want to win an autographed copy of A Twisted Ladder?  In the comments field below, tell us about one book you chose to read because it sounded quite different from what you usually read or because you wanted to explore outside your reading boundaries.  How did you experience reading outside your comfort zone? Winner will be randomly chosen and notified Wednesday, October 7.   

UPDATE:  Thanks to the four folks who gave interesting and intricate answers to my question!  I used a random number generator to determine the winner.  Congratulations to Katie B.!  Katie, I'll contact you personally to get your mailing address.  Hope you enjoy this autographed copy of A Twisted Ladder.

(Thanks to Rhodi Hawk and her publishers for giving me a free copy at SIBA two weeks ago.)


Chris Hassiotis said...

I'm in the middle of reading Steve Hely's How I Became A Famous Novelist right now. Hely's written for comedy tv shows before, and the book is a tongue-in-cheek send-up of writing, publishing trends and other literary ephemera. Generally I shy away from novels that are intentionally marketed as funny, as I find they're usually too over the top and broad. I prefer my written funny in essay form (Sedaris) or subtler (Gaiman). But I thought I'd give Hely's book a shot after hearing him interviewed on NPR's "Fresh Air" a week or two ago. While I think Hely's satire is sometimes a little too obvious, it's still worthwhile read, and I'm glad I gave it the benefit of the doubt.

Bonnie Cramond said...

I usually draw a line between books I read for professional enlightenment and those I read for enjoyment. The former never make it into the bedroom, and the latter seldom make it out. Now, I am reading a book that has crossed the line, The Three-Pound Enigma. This book about the brain is both intellectually satisfying and accessible enough to read in bed. It is unusual in that the author, a medical student, has taken on this complex topic by dedicating different chapters to different investigations of the brain--from shadowing a neurosurgeion, to visitng one of the inventors of the MRI, to interviewing Francis Crick, to participating in a sleep lab. Moffett maintains reader interest by shifting the viewpoint as well as the approach in each of her chapters. Thus, I find the style and content of this book to be quite different from any I have read before. To add to her unique approach, Moffett intersperses sections on brain development as interludes between each chapter. She has even created a web site to illustrate some of the brain experiments and other content better represented in animated form at www.shannonmoffett.com I am both enjoying and learning this unusual book.

Katie said...

I would have to say that Frederick Buechner's "Telling Secrets" is way outside of my comfort zone. I don't typically enjoy reading books written by very religious people because I end up getting angry. Buechner is a theologian and minister, so I was wary. However, when he discussed his faith, I found it beautiful and intriguing. It was also not "preachy" and the story he has to tell is remarkable including discussing his father's suicide and his daughter's eating disorder that almost killed her. I have never read any of his fiction, but am much more inclined to do so after reading one of his memoirs.

Melanie Wiggins said...

I recently read Dominion: The Power of Men, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy by Matthew Scully. Although it is on a topic of interest to me, I did step outside of my comfort zone in reading it. It was full of graphic stories of animal abuse. Many times, I had to put the book down because I couldn't read through my own tears. In reading it, however, I allowed myself for the first time to really look behind the curtain, so to speak, and peer into the depths of animal abuse. The book was one of the reasons I have since become a vegetarian.

Upon finishing Dominion, I decided to find out a little bit about the author. His background as a conservative Catholic who happens to be vegetarian made the book all the more interesting. Unfortunately, I discovered that he was a speechwriter for Sarah Palin, a woman with complete disregard for animal welfare. I feel that Scully's division of loyalties verge on hypocrisy, yet I hold onto some of the insights I took away from the book with ferocity.