Book Review #62: “The Casual Vacancy”

The Casual Vacancy

Image Credit: Kobo.com

It took me quite a while to read this book. I purchased it at Barnes & Noble at least two years ago, if not longer than that. I think I had a gift card to spend, because the paperback had the bargain price of $5.98.

I’ve been interested in this book since it was published in 2012. Having been a massive Harry Potter fan, and this being her first novel for adults, I had full confidence that I would enjoy this book just as much.

Poor Al. He’s heard me gripe and complain and whine about this book for weeks! But, I finally finished the book earlier this week after he went to sleep. It took way too long for me to finish 503 pages, but I DID IT!

Rowling is still one of my favorite authors, by the way. But, this book doesn’t make my list of favorites.

It’s not a bad book, but it’s really dense. There are SO MANY characters. It made my head spin initially. I get it – She’s focusing on multiple families, all who are involved in some way with the parish council. Also, the book could have been condensed. In my opinion, 503 pages for this book was too long. She could have certainly told this particular story in 300-400 pages.

As an American, I’ve been fascinated with England, British life, and so on for several years. Getting this fictional perspective of a parish council, different communities, and challenging decisions was really interesting. Overall, the cast of characters were diverse, and interesting. There was a lot more drama than I was expecting, but it wasn’t too distracting.

The book dragged quite a bit through the first half. I almost gave up – I was struggling with the characters, and it was a lot of mundane exposition.

However, around Part Five or Part Six, the action increased, and I actually started to enjoy it. Toward the very end, I was on the edge of my seat – The last 75 pages or so were really exciting. Definitely dramatic, and more than a bit of tragedy, but it felt like a thriller at that point. I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. I was slightly sad when I got to the last page.

Again, not my favorite book by Rowling, but I was happy I plowed through to finish.

3 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

Book Review #40: “The End of Everything”

The End of Everything

Image Credit: Amazon

A couple of weeks ago, I found this book while I visited 2nd and Charlesย with a dear friend of mine. They opened a new location across the street from my office last year – They have every type of book, DVDs, Blu-ray, vinyl, CDs, toys, games, and more. Some things are brand-new, still in the packaging! It was only $5.00, so I figured I’d give it a shot.

I immediately recognized that Abbott is the author of other books such as You Will Know Me (currently on my TBR). I was intrigued by a combination of the cover and the synopsis on the inside. And, I can’t really turn down a hardcover book for $5.00!


I found myself reading multiple chapters per night, and I ended up finishing the book after less than a week.

In the 1980s, Lizzie and Evie are finishing up eighth grade, best friends since childhood. They’re attached to each other’s hips, but they appear to be going through their own paths and struggles. What 13-year-olds don’t?

Lizzie’s dad left years ago, but her mom looks like she’s been having a man over to the house recently. Evie appears to be living in her older sister, Dusty’s, shadow, but also excelling at soccer while trying to figure out what happens next.

Then, mere weeks before eighth-grade graduation, Evie Verver suddenly vanishes. As her family and the police investigate, Lizzie proves to be invaluable, finding multiple clues and helping assemble the complex puzzle. Everyone is desperate to get Evie back, although different characters are going through different emotions and handling the situation in different ways. One suspect, from their own neighborhood, looks promising, and the intensity continues to increase.

The book weaves together the complex topics/subjects of a child abduction, painful childhood memories, blossoming sexuality, and the relationships of parents with their children. The setting was the 1980s, and Abbott stays faithful to it the entire time. She also does a good job with balancing tragedy with triumph in her writing.

The only major complaint I had was that Abbott focuses so much on the relationship between Lizzie and Mr. Verver, and then tries to also explain/develop the relationship between Dusty and her father. The lines started to blur, and it was hard to tell sometimes who Abbott was referring to, and to figure out what exactly was going on.

It was challenging to differentiate between the two, and I felt a little creeped out by the end of the book. Mr. Verver appeared to be the sweetest, least-pervy of the fathers in the book, but some of the allusions that Abbott was making, absolutely made my skin crawl. Part of me didn’t want Lizzie, Evie, or Dusty to be taken advantage of, but part of me knew that the setting was also a different era (in a way), and parent-child relationships can still be taken too far, if you catch my drift. It makes me shudder just writing it.

Abbott is a great writer overall, and I look forward to reading more of her books! I just hope this one is just a fluke.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚