Monday, November 23, 2015

Depraved Heart/ Patricia Cornwell/ 466 pages

Depraved Heart by Patricia Cornwell picks up where Flesh and Blood left off.  Kay Scarpetta has returned home just barely recovered from her leg injury and is working a case when she receives a video text that implicates Lucy in illegal activities.  Kay rushes to Lucy house were the FBI is busy executing a search warrant.  The remainder of the book takes place over the duration of one day and deals with trying to stay one step ahead of someone who is playing a game with Scarpetta and her loved ones. While not in the same style of the early Scarpetta  books, this installment is an easier read the than the most recent novels in this series.  This would not be a good book for a reader who is concerned with privacy.  For more information and read a likes see the SCCCLD website.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

One Plus One/Jojo Moyes/368 pgs.

Jess Thomas has a life no one would envy: she's a single parent (her deadbeat husband left to live with his mother to get his life back together); she holds two crummy jobs; her teenage stepson,Nicky, is constantly being bullied; and her young daughter, Tanzie, is a math whiz. Through it all, Jess keeps a pretty positive attitude--until it gets to be too much, and the only solution to a better life is for Tanzie to compete in a math competition in Scotland. Ed Nicholls enters the picture--and has his own problems. The novel is told in different chapters through the various characters' voices. There is sadness, humor, misunderstandings, twists and turns--all ending in a wonderful novel. Highly recommended!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

George / Alex Gino / 196 pages

      This will be a controversial book that is destined to be burned in some parts of Michigan (hey, they burned Harry Potter) and banned in other places.  George is a transgender child.  He is physically a boy, but inside is really a girl.  George is in 4th grade and wants to play Charlotte in the school play "Charlotte's Web".  What should George do?  How does George get along with a couple of boys?  One is a former friend and the other is just a bully. Then there is the family-how to reveal being a daughter instead of a son.  Is it even possible?
     The book really gets into George's head with understanding about what it could be like to be transgender.  George explores the myriad problems and the author educates the reader on what transgender means and lays out how a medical transformation could happen.  Most kids will probably not really know what this all means.  They know "different" when they see it, but they can't name it or accept it which is how all the troubles arise.  In this book, it ends on a high note where George has one accepting friend with whom the secret is safe.  However, it ends there with George feeling "right" for the first time.
     There needs to be a sequel where the reality hits with family, school, and even strangers.  How will George cope with the many problems that will arise in the struggle to be transgender.  That second book would be a lulu.  I hope no young reader thinks that coming out will be easy based on this book.
     Extraordinary, well-written book that should be in the library and not banned.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Career of Evil/ Robert Galbraith/ 489 pages

Career of Evil is the third book written by J.K. Rowling under the pseudonym of  Robert Galbraith.  The books opens as Cormoran Strikes' assistant receives a severed leg via courier.  Strike can think of four people who would want revenge.  As news of the leg hits the media business drops.  Soon Robin and Strike find themselves with only one case to investigate.  All the while they continue to investigate the leg suspects.  As more women are murdered, Strike is concerned for Robin's welfare.  All the while Robin wonders if her upcoming marriage is the right thing to do.  This book is a gritty tale of murder and revenge.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Shadow Play: an Eve Duncan novel/Iris Johansen/332 pgs.

Eve Duncan is a forensic sculptor; she reconstructs skulls in the hopes of discovering who the dead person once was. She gets a call from a sheriff in California asking her to reconstruct the skull of a young girl that was discovered in his territory. Eve accepts his request, and becomes strongly drawn to the skull she names "Jenny." As in other Eve Duncan novels, there is "other worldliness" going on, plus mystery and suspense. It's a fast read, but I didn't find it as satisfying as some of Johansen's other Eve Duncan novels--though she does drop a bombshell at the end!

The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat/Edward Kelsey Moore/369 pgs.

Odette, Clarice, and Barbara Jean were the best of friends in high school during the late 1960s; they were dubbed "The Supremes" and the name stuck, even though forty years have passed since that time. These African-American women have married and remained in Plainview, Indiana, and have been there for each other, through thick and thin. The novel focuses mainly on one year in the Supremes' lives with all its laughter and sorrow. It's a very heartwarming, entertaining novel--with secrets, humor, and a feel good ending. Highly recommended!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Husband's Secret / Liane Moriarty / 396 pages / 11 Discs

This book follows the intertwining stories of Tess O'Leary, Rachel Crowley, and Cecilia Fitzpatrick and how one singular event, one singular secret has woven their lives together in ways they never would have thought possible.  When we meet Tess, she's leaving Melbourne, her husband, and her cousin (who's also her husband's lover) behind and fleeing to Sydney with her son to mourn her destroyed marriage in the familiarity of her childhood home.  Rachel Crowley is mourning the death of her long-ago murdered daughter as well as coping with the anger she feels for her son and daughter-in-law as they decide to uproot their family and move to New York for two years, taking Rachel's grandson, the light of Rachel's world, with them.  And Cecilia, she has just found a letter, that once opened is going to change the fate of all three women in one crazy and life-altering way.

This book is perfect for those readers who love a story that keeps you on the edge of your seat.  It contains characters for seem very real.  Moriarty captures the voice of each women splendidly, and tells a story that readers won't soon forget.

One Step Too Far / Tina Serkis / 285 pages

What would cause a mother and wife to up and leave her family one day without seemingly any warning?  That's question readers are trying to answer in this psychological thriller.  Emily Coleman has become Cat Brown and has run away to escape some dark devastation in her past and start a new life in London.  The chapters alternate between a first person narrative of Cat's story to flashbacks of other characters, including Cat as Emily, that help fill in the background of what has brought Cat to this point.  The reader will never see the ultimate twist coming which is as heart-wrenching as it is surprising.  Tina Serkis weaves a story filled with flawed, realistic characters who the reader can't help but keep reading to discover more.  This definitely a book that will keep you up at night in your desire to find out Cat's secret.

Carry On / Rainbow Rowell / 528 pages / 11 discs

Carry On is the book so many Rainbow Rowell fans (including myself) have been waiting for since her book Fangirl was written!  It follows Simon Snow, the mage's heir, through his eighth year of school at Watford School of Magics as he tries to defeat the Insidious Humdrum and save the world of magicians from losing their magic.  Carry On is the fanfiction Cath worked so hard to complete during Fangirl and Rowell delivers completely on its story.  Simon and Baz (Simon's roommate and arch-nemesis) settle on a temporary truce to uncover who murdered Baz's mother and is subsequently responsible for turning Baz into a vampire.  The reader can relate to both characters' attempts to live up to the expectations of those around them as well as how they cope when life throws them for a loop with a love they never expected.

Shadow of Night, Book 2 of All Souls Triology / Deborah Harkness / 592 pages / 20 dics

In the second book of Deborah Harkness's All Souls Trilogy, the reader finds Matthew and Diana back in Elizabethan England due to a risky time-walking spell Diana performed.  During their time in the past, Matthew and Diana encounter several famous historical figures such as Sir Walter Raleigh, Charles Marlowe, and Queen Elizabeth as well as travel to France and the Austrian portion of the Holy Roman Empire.  All of this is done for two reasons: to continue to search for the lost alchemical manuscript, Ashmole 782 which may contain the lineage of creatures, and second, to help Diana learn to control and tap into her magic.  During their journey, Matthew and Diana learn many things about each other one can only learn by encountering the secret pieces of  one's past.

Friday, November 13, 2015

SCCCLD October and November Challenge

In keeping with the season, 
October and November's Challenge
 is to read a 

Horror Book!

Well, at least a scary story.   
We won't judge, if that souffle cookbook really scares you, go for it!

And if you survive the challenge, and post your review, you will be rewarded with a bonus point.

For ideas check out the horror list on Novelist.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Thousand Names: Book 1 of the Shadow Campaigns / Django Wexler / 513 pgs

  I love a good epic fantasy. Something that I can lose myself in and forget about the world. Unfortunately I haven't found a well-written one in a while. But I have now. And it is just awesome.   
 Captain Marcus D'Ivoire has been in the desert country of Khandar for a while looking for a way home. His forces have just been routed in an unexpected uprising and they are encamped in a small fort overlooking the ocean. Marcus has just received orders that a new colonel is on the way.
  Winter Ihernglass is just trying to be unnoticed. The platoon's sergeant has a way of 'helping' his soldiers along that leave bruises. When summoned to the new colonel's tent and receiving a field promotion, Winter must try to find the strength to lead the men against impossible odds. These are only two of several story lines through out the book.
  There is a feel of old style swashbuckling with swords and muskets but also the use of magic has added a different texture. This is a book that would appeal to the military/adventure reader who loves tactics and the thrill of battle. Then there is the fantasy element with the supernatural abilities of the Steel Ghost, what are the 'thousand names' and what about the priestess who saves Winter's life. I thoroughly enjoyed this adventure and look forward to reading the second one. I did listen to this and heartily recommend it to you. The narrator is Richard Poe and he gives everyone a distinct voice so the characters remain recognizable. It is 18 discs but once you get started, time will fly by.

6 Degrees of Reading: Prince of Fools (The Red Queen's War by Mark Lawrence, The Republic of Thieves (Gentleman Thieves) by Scott Lynch, Theft of Swords (Vol 1) by Michael J. Sullivan.

The Burning Air / Erin Kelly / 321pgs / Thriller / Horror

  I was drawn to this book by a review I had found on a blog. The author was talking about books that stayed with him long after it had been finished. This guy was right. Burning Air creeped me out so much that I can't remember it without a shudder.
  The MacBride family is a well-positioned part of Saxby University. They are respected within the community and people look to them for leadership. Then there is Darcy, a small awkward boy who has been tutored by his mother in the hopes of making it into the University on scholarship. Their future depends upon him. Then the unthinkable happens: Darcy isn't given the scholarship and his life is changed forever.
  The book is divided into several narrators. We have Lydia, Sophie, Darcy, Rowan who bring a different view point to the events. What happens to one character is viewed differently by others and interpreted yet again by someone else. This brings the horror of what Darcy does and plans to do to a new level of uncomfortableness. Darcy dedicates his life to bringing the MacBride family to his brand of justice and he goes about it with compelling malevolence.
  There were several times I wanted to stop reading. I was completely unnerved by what Darcy did with his life. He was totally unemotional and amoral about everything. All his energy was directed toward the completion of his goal. A totally unsympathetic character. Anyone who wants a read that needs all the lights on for several days this is it.

6 Degrees of Reading: The House at Midnight by Lucie Whitehouse, The Good Girl by Mary Kubica, The Silent Wife by A.S. Harrison.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Girl on the Train/ Paula Hawkins/325

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning, fantasizing about the cozy suburban houses with their perfect couples all happy and content, nestled along the track. One morning she sees something and knows she has to tell the police. This story is told from three different female point of views, their lives all precariously entwined. Rachel is an alcoholic that binges and blackout. She has lost her job, her husband and has serious self esteem issues.  Rachel is the "girl on the train" pretending to commute daily to London. Some readers have compared this title to Gone Girl, both trying to portray a dark side to domestic life, both have twisty suspenseful plots. 

Funeral Parlor Quilt/ Ann Hazelwood/ 263 pages

The Funeral Parlor Quilt is the third book in the Colebridge Series written by Ann Hazelwood.  Anne Brown is about to become Anne Dickson in this installment.  While on a short honeymoon, Sam experiences chest pain.  Anne adds one more thing to her list of worries.  The reader can follow Anne in the day to day process of running a floral shop on Main Street in Colebridge, MO,
maintaining her new home in an old, refurbished house and dealing with Grandmother Davis, a ghost.  Readers who like cozy mysteries and quilting will enjoy this book.  For more information and read a likes check out the SCCCLD website.

Flight of the Sparrow / Amy Belding Brown / 557 pages

  This book of historical fiction is set in the 1600's in New England during part of King Phillips war.  The main character of the book is Mary.  She is an actual person who was captured by Indians and later ransomed.  She wrote an account of her captivity from which the author was able to get the information for the book. 
   In this book, Mary is conflicted between white and Indian culture, also between the strict Puritan views of life and her own views which are diametrically opposed.  She comes to believe that slavery is wrong, that God is not constantly chastising his people, that people should be free to think their own thoughts.  Her caged sparrow is a symbol for all that she feels.  It is a very interesting and powerful look into that time period.

Taming of the Queen / Philippa Gregory / 450 pages

This historical fiction is part of Gregory's Tudor Court series.  It describes the life of Kateryn Parr, who is Henry VIII's sixth and final wife.  Kateryn is a very sympathetic heroine, though at times Gregory makes her just a little too na├»ve for my taste.  Kateryn bravely navigates life at the court of a mad king, knowing she could be executed at any moment.  Friendships last only as long as they are politically expedient and honor is hard to find.  Ironically, the only place Kateryn seems to find good advice and wisdom is from the court's fool, Will Somers.  This novel is beautifully written and I am looking forward to reading more of the Tudor Court novels.

Interview with the Vampire / Anne Rice / 368 pages / November Challenge (horror)

This first novel of Rice's Vampire Chronicles presents the vampire Louis telling his story to the skeptical human reporter Daniel.  The tale winds its way through New Orleans and Europe, from Louis's vampire birth in 1791 until the early 20th century.  The book hints at many sexual themes, but none of the relationships are explicitly described.  Louis tells of attractions to two older male vampires, a human female, and even a 5-year-old turned vampire by his maker, Lestat.  The novel primarily chronicles events in Louis's vampiric life and his feelings about those events.  He begins as a young man (he is 25 when he is turned) grieving for his brother.  He is excited by the new perceptions he gains as a vampire and seeks out all the beauty of humanity, taking in music and art and literature.  As he finds it necessary to kill humans rather than animals, he becomes more and more disturbed by his vampiric nature and begins to believe he is forever damned.  The novel inspired the 1994 film, Interview with the Vampire, starring Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise.  It can be surmised that Stephenie Meyer has drawn on Vampire Chronicles for her Twilight series; many of the descriptions of vampires' skin and perceptions and the theme of guilt in some vampires over taking human life are similar.  The next book in the series is The Vampire Lestat.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Jane Austen Quilt Club/ Ann Hazelwood/ 313 pages

The Jane Austen Quilt Club is the fourth book in the Colebridge Community Series written by Ann Hazelwood.  The book advances Anne Dickson's story as she contemplates expanding her flower shop on Main Street.  Along the way the Jane Austen Book Club adds a quilt to their projects.  When the quilt is entered into a quilt show in Florida, a  swap occurs and a different quilt is taken out of the shipping box.  Anne steps in to help solve the mystery.  This book would appeal to readers who like small towns, friendly characters and everyday events.  For more information and read a likes see the SCCCLD website.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Heir of Fire/Sarah J. Maas/565 pgs.

This is book 3 in the Throne of Glass series--and is just as entertaining and action packed as the first two books! Celaena Sardothien  is now in Wendlyn having been ordered there by the King of Adarlan. Here she meets Rowan, who has been instructed to train her in Fae ways, by her aunt, Maeve--the aunt Celaena's mother kept her from. In this book, Celaena comes to terms with her true identity--Aelin Galathynius--Queen of Terrasen. She has lost those she has loved, and needs to learn how to manipulate her power in order to one day be able to conquer the King of Adarlan. It's a wonderful series, with great, but flawed characters, and a strong story line. Highly recommended!

The Great Trouble / Deborah Hopkinson / 249 pages

     This Mark Twain nominee is about a cholera epidemic in 1854 London.  The hero is Eel, a poor thirteen year old orphan who makes a living working in several jobs.  He has a secret - a brother that he is supporting and hiding.  Eel becomes involved when a man in the neighborhood dies of cholera.  He meets the famous Dr. Snow and helps him investigate the cause of the cholera which is the contaminated water rather than "bad air" or miasma.
     It is an interesting book and kids will learn history and science at the same time.  It is quite a bit of an extra to hear on cd with the various British accents.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Speaking in Bones/ Kathy Reichs/ 298 pages

Speaking in Bones is the latest addition to the Temperance Brennan series written by Kathy Reichs.  Tempe is in North Carolina pondering Ryan's proposal of marriage when she is visited by a web sleuth with a tape recording of what sounds like a crime.  Tempe is pulled into the world of Web sleuthing as she tries to determine if the unidentified bones sitting in storage are those of the girl on the tape.  Kathy Reichs continues to write using her proven format of crime investigation.  This book contains all the twists and turns usually found in Reichs stories.  For more information and read-a-likes visit the SCCCLD website.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The 11th Plague / Jeff Hirsch / 28 pages

     This is another dystopian YA book.  It takes place 15 years after the war with China.  The United States is in ruins, no power grid, no government, no civilization, no infrastructure, no nothing.  There were also 11 plagues that took many peoples' lives and there is no modern medical care.  That being said, this book shows the possibility of hope and belief that people would still exist that could rise above the chaos. 
     The main character, Stephen, is a 15 year old boy who has never known the "old world" and has grown up traveling around with his father and grandfather trying to find scrap to sell to exist.  He loses both to disease and peril and is alone.  He is rescued by two people who take him to their town and help him.  The story then becomes a story about values, kindness, and adjusting to change.  Stephen has to learn to trust, to believe that kindness can exist, that hope in a better future is possible. 
     This book is a very worthy discussion book because it goes beyond the fighting and chaos that characterizes so many (Maze Runner) dystopian novels that have no real purpose.  How much help should a person help another?  Is it okay to help only if it doesn't hurt your own resources or is it more moral to help if it is sacrificial.  Is it okay to kill others?  self-defense? pre-emptive defense?  to get resources?  just because?  then there is the issue of slavery.  The possibilities are wide for discussion with this book.
     Highly recommended.

Sanctum / Madeleine Roux / 343 pages / November Challenge (horror)

This second novel in Roux's YA horror series is a wonderful sequel to Asylum.  Dan, Abby, and Jordan have begun their senior year at separate high schools.  They stay in touch through texting and social media until they discover that they are all still plagued by nightmares about their stay in Brookline Asylum for a college prep summer program.  After each of them receive a postcard with a creepy carnival picture and a combined message of "You're not finished," they finally decide to go back to Brookline to confront their fears, and hopefully put the summer firmly behind them.  Once at the campus, things once again seem weird to them.  College students wander around with glazed eyes - and they can't quite believe that it's all due to drugs and alcohol.  Documents are missing from the campus library, and the trio discovers more mysteries after breaking into abandoned houses all over town.  The clues and discoveries will have readers staying up late to finish this book in one sitting.  The final book in the series is Catacomb.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Six of Crows/Leigh Bardugo/462 pages

Image result for six of crowsSix dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first.  The story is told from the point of view of the six main characters, you think that might be confusing, but trust me, you couldn't wait to get back to each and every story. It is dark and gritty, just like the thieves and murderers we come to know and love. There is hidden magic, a little romance, humor and tons of action!  Six of Crows is "sort of" a companion series to the author's original Grisha trilogy, but you definitely do not have to read the other books.

Rat Queens: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N'Rygoth (Vol. 2) / Kurtis J. Wiebe / 112 pgs

Love this series!  If you like strong female lead characters, this comic is chock-full of feminine bad-assery.  In volume two, the town is under attack by three demons that warp the characters sense of time and reality.  This causes the the main leads to flash back in time giving the reader a chance to explore a little more of their backstories.  Not surprisingly, they are all dealing with past hurts and identity issues.

A great followup to the first book, and I can't wait to read more!

Murder of an Open Book/ Denise Swanson/ 247 pages

Murder of an Open Book is the next installment of the Scumble River series written by Denise Swanson.  Skye Denison-Boyd and husband Wally are back from their honeymoon.  Skye is fighting off morning sickness while trying to keep her pregnancy under wraps from her mom, May.  An early morning swim in the high school pool helps with morning sickness, until the morning when the volleyball coach, Blair Hucksford tosses her out.  When the unpopular teacher is found dead in the pool, Skye and Wally work together to solve the murder.  Readers who like cozy mysteries will enjoy this book.  For more information and read a likes check out the SCCCLD website.