My rating: 5 of 5 stars
If there were ever a review that I found difficult to write, it would be for a book written by Suanne Laqueur… simply because she is such a phenomenal writer, and I know I will never do it justice. A Charm of Finches is the second in the Venery series, and the second book I’ve read from the author to date. While nothing will ever surpass the first one, this comes very close. This is not a book for everyone. It addresses many topics which will be awkward, painful, invasive, and too raw for those who prefer something lighthearted. But at the same time, Laqueur is such an intense and powerful writer, every moment is packed with beauty and emotion that will make any and all readers cry. If you do not bawl while reading this, you need to speak with someone about getting your tear ducts repaired.
Okay, the facts: a multi-day gang rape of a young teenage boy, death of someone’s family, survival after Auschwitz, divorce, suicide attempts, new love, discovery of homosexuality, addressing fears head on, psychology / art therapy for the truly physically and mentally abused… BUT, forget what the story deals with and focus on the path that our beautiful and tragic characters take to climb deep into a hole and thrust themselves through the pain to find the one ray of shining hope. It doesn’t come easily. It doesn’t always happen. But when it does, your heart will feel such an immensity of relief, you don’t ever want to put the book down.
But you have to. Not because it’s not a page-turner. It absolutely is. But you can only handle so much reality at once. I might never complain about anything again after seeing what others have gone through. While some of this is fiction, there is a huge component of truth. This has happened to people. Probably people you’ve met. But you never knew. And now, an amazing author can deliver it, and while what Laqueur has dropped in our laps, though some of the best writing I’ve read in years, is probably minor compared to what victims truly experienced. Laqueur has given us gift in this series… a way to understand people we might not know in person.
It’s not all emotionally-wrecking behavior. There are moments of levity. Laqueur captures those early new relationship feelings when we don’t trust ourselves that someone can love us. She highlights what we do wrong and what we do right when trying to share our love through both physical and mental methods. Whether she’s comparing fellow members of a rape-survival group to the Easter Island statues protecting us from anyone getting in or out, to the flight of a finch or a lark, you will connect with this author.
The only reason someone shouldn’t read the book, or doesn’t like it, is if he or she can’t handle the topics. Other than that, this is a finely crafted, must-read book for true literary fiction fans who can immerse themselves in the world of people you will grow to love like family. But do it the right way… buddy read it with a friend, like I did. Nina and I carried each other through this book for a few days. Almost chatting like two awkward teenagers who share a language no one else understands. It was the words we didn’t say that explained our mutual feelings… and that’s exactly what happens in the book, too… it’s what the author purposely doesn’t say that shows how awesome she is and how she should be on the top of the charts for all to see. I don’t often praise this highly, but this is a series that I will never forget, and I will always recommend.
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BTW, thank you to Sophie @ Beware of the Reader for recommending this book — she has changed my life!
Check out The Cozy Pages review to see what Nina thought of our buddy read!
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic Curveball, Broken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Under normal circumstances, it’s easy for me to write a review directly after I’ve read a novel. Occasionally, the book is so strong, I need time to think about what I want to say. I only finished Exaltation of Larks, the first in the Venery series by Suanne Laqueur, last night but feel compelled to get some of my thoughts down before I have so many, I can’t organize a review. This book was recommended to me by a very generous blogger who wrote a stellar review of one of my books. Given how much she thought I’d like Laqueur’s work, I accepted the recommendation and got a copy of the book to read. I allotted it as an October read, slightly nervous that it was ~550 pages and I’ve been focusing on other genres lately. After 30 minutes in, I couldn’t stop reading it… and that’s just how it kept on going until I devoured the entire tome in 2 1/2 days.
Do not be fearful of the page count, or that it’s only the first in a series. I haven’t read the others (definitely will this year) but even if you only stopped at the first one, it would be the kind of read you always remember. It goes extremely quickly… I’m a quick reader but I was flipping pages so fast and connecting with the story on a different plane than normal. I’d read 25% before bed the first night and still wanted to keep going despite how late it’d gotten. I finished 50% the next day and then the final 25% before bed last night.
The book was written in a way that I couldn’t help but feel part of it. Between physical and emotional attraction to the main characters, a thirst for something ravenous to happen, a moment or two of crying in pain, and a recognition of things I have and might be missing in my own life, this book kept pushing me to want to climb inside the spine and become one with it. Those are some powerful words, images, and thoughts, but Alex, Val, and Jav are truly the kind of characters I navigate toward. Throw in a dysfunctional set of families, cliffhangers, over-coincidences (which ultimately I love), and a statement about the value of life, I am in awe of Laqueur’s plot and character development to the umpteenth degree.
I’m sure I’ll come back to write more… you don’t need me to describe the plot, just read the summary and you’ll get it. If you’re comfortable with LGBTQ stories, somewhat occasional graphic descriptions of intimacy, and language with multi-cultural references and speech, you will love this book. I bring these things up not as a warning, but as the primary reason this book was so phenomenal. It opens your mind to understanding physical attraction, chemistry, longing, and fear of taking an alternative step in life. It’s about deciding who you are and who you want to be versus what people think you should be or where you’re initially born.
I’m sure there will be more to come in the future, but this is what I’ve got left emotionally to say… just go read it.
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.