Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Chemist/Meyer/521 pages

 An ex-agent on the run from her former employer, the U.S. government, the Chemist is one of the darkest secrets of the agency.  The main character is an expert in her field of torture and interrogation using chemicals and other means to get the truth from her victims. Meyer is very descriptive in her writing, thus the over 500 page novel, but for the most part it is a decent story. And the best part, there is not a vampire or werewolf to be found anywhere!

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children / Ransom Riggs / 382 pages

This is a wonderful young adult novel and series.  The vintage photographs are amazing and the way they are worked into the story is fantastic - though Riggs gets better at this as the novel goes on.  The first few pictures have a very obvious indication in the text that you are supposed to look for the picture and it's not always on the facing page.  This doesn't work as well for an audiobook, because you will want to look at the pictures as you read along.

16-year-old Jacob lead a normal, ordinary life.  His family is moderately wealthy.  He is taken care of, though a bit neglected - but he doesn't have a closest under the stairs for a room or anything like that. Then he gets a phone call to check on his grandfather, and finds his grandfather on the verge of death in the woods behind his home.  Jacob is the only one to hear his grandfather's cryptic last words and decides to try to find the magical island and the children's home his grandfather had always told him stories about.

The book is a little different from the movie.  Emma and Olive trade powers for the movie, but Jacob is still attracted to Emma.  The ending of the movie is so different from the book, that I get the feeling that the director stopped reading halfway through and just created his own ending.  Both the book and movie are very good, but they should not necessarily be compared to each other.

EverTrue / Brodi Ashton / 368 pages

This is the third and final novel of the Everneath trilogy.  Nikki has rescued Jack, and now she just wants to graduate high school, but soon finds her energy drained.  Cole had tricked her into feeding on him in the Everneath, so now she is in the process of becoming an everliving.  She and Jack decide to fight for her life with everything they have.  Unfortunately, if Nikki doesn't feed on Cole every night, she dies.  Many awkward situations arise.

Nikki wants to find a way to sever her connection to the Everneath, but she has attracted the attention of the Queen, and the Queen has a reputation for killing any rival for her throne.  Can she escape with her life once and for all?

More connections to Persephone and other underworld myths arise.  Much more action than the previous two novels.  Friendships are strained and enemies are trusted.  A fitting end to the series.

EverBound / Brodi Ashton / 384 pages

This is the second novel of the Everneath series.  Nikki Beckett escaped the tunnels, but only because her boyfriend, Jack, took her place.  Now she embarks on a journey to save Jack and find a way for them both to live out normal, human lives.  Unfortunately, she has to depend on Cole - the life-sucking everliving who took her to the Everneath - to help her save the love of her life.  Nikki continues to trust Cole even when she knows she shouldn't.  Will he be the friend she hopes for or betray her yet again?

The mythological elements are a little stronger than in the first novel, more mention of the Persephone myth, and readers might also recognize elements of Dante's Inferno. 

Everneath / Brodi Ashton / 400 pages

This is the first book of the Everneath trilogy.  16-year-old Nikki Beckett returns home after a 6-month absence.  Everyone assumes she was on drugs or in rehab, but the truth is much darker.  She had been fed on in the Everneath, and barely escaped.  Can she repair the relationships she left behind and forgive her own weakness that led to her disappearance?  Can she find a way to say goodbye again before the tunnels claim her in six months?

Readers of Twilight will appreciate this book, though there are no sparkling vampires.  This author would have been on Team Jacob.  There are elements of the supernatural and romance.  There are also ties to ancient mythologies.

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Invisible Library/Genevieve Cogman/341 pgs.

Irene is sent on a mission for the invisible Library. This Library collects works of fiction from alternate worlds in order to keep all "worlds" in balance. Irene's mission sends her, and her assistant, Kai, to an "alternate" London--a London that has vampires, and Fae creatures, to name a few. They are to acquire a particular edition of a Grimm's fairy tale, and transport it back to the Library. There is sabotage, adventure, humor, etc., in this Victorian era/steampunk novel. It's the first in a series, and highly entertaining. Highly recommended--especially for anyone in the library profession!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Life We Bury/Allen Eskens/315 pgs.

It begins with a college English assignment. Joe Talbert is supposed to interview a stranger, and then write a brief biography of his/her life. Joe decides to go to a nursing home, hoping to find a veteran to interview to fulfill the assignment. He gets more than he bargained for. He is introduced to Carl Iverson, a Vietnam War veteran, who also had been serving a prison sentence for the murder and rape of a young girl years ago. He was paroled to the nursing home because he is in the final stages of pancreatic cancer. He agrees to talk to Joe--it's his "dying declaration." The more Joe talks to Carl, the more convinced he becomes that he was unjustly accused of murder. However, if Carl didn't murder the young girl, who did? There are family secrets, complex characters, dysfunctional families--what more could a reader ask for in a book? It's a very good debut, and one that I highly recommend!

Wonder Woman: Earth One, Volume 1 / Grant Morrison / 144 pgs

I have to admit that I don't read a lot of superhero graphic novels. There are a precious few that I consider to be the best and I tend to reread them a lot, like Alan Moore's "The Killing Joke" or Marvel's "Civil War" series. For the ReadHarder challenge this year, I just read "Wonder Woman: Earth One, Volume 1" which I am guessing is a retelling of the Wonder Woman origin story with very heavy Greek mythology overtones. My very limited knowledge tells me that the big reveal of how Princess Diana/Wonder Woman was conceived is a departure from previous iterations of Wonder Woman.

It was an interesting take, making Diana's sexual orientation quite overt, changing Steve Trevor to a modern-day African-American pilot, and piling on the Amazons' disgust of "man's world." I mean, seriously, there's a LOT of repetition there. If I read one more time how horrible "man's world" is, even going so far as taking an obese woman and blaming "man's world" on making her body "grotesque," I would have screamed.

*You know, I had the rating at 3 stars but I just dropped it down to 2 stars because as I'm writing my review, I'm getting more and more upset about how normal, everyday women are portrayed in this graphic novel*

Anyways, if anything saves "Wonder Woman: Earth One, Volume 1" is that the graphics are gorgeous. Paradise Island is lush and colorful. The outfits worn by the Amazons, and even the ones worn by the regular folk in "man's world," are detailed and rich. The writing may have been poor, but the artistry was not.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Kindred / Octavia Butler / 264 pgs

Kindred is one of those books I've been meaning to read the last couple of years and only finally got around to it. The story involves Dana, a 26 year old, newly married black woman in 1976 Los Angeles who inexplicably, and without warning, travels to a 1815 Maryland plantation owned by slaveholder, Tom Weylin. In her first trip, Dana saves Tom's son, Rufus, and quickly returns to her own time. After a second trip where Dana saves Rufus' life again, she realizes a few things. First, Rufus is her ancestor. Second, Dana seems to travel to the past whenever Rufus' life is in danger. Third, Dana can only get back to the present when her own life seems to be in danger. Fourth, no matter how much time has passed in the past, only a few minutes or hours pass in the present. Fifth, being a black woman in the antebellum South is a very dangerous.

Although it ultimately took me 4 days to finish this book, it really was very hard for me to put it down. I was completely enthralled with Octavia Butler's writing. She made the whole story come alive and I found Dana to be a complete heroine, someone I could identify with despite the fact that I am not black, and have never experienced the kind of bigotry she does. I think it was more Dana's spirit and direct approach that I enjoyed. I highly recommend. Best book so far in 2017.

Three Nights in August / H.G. Bissinger / 280 pgs

I don't believe I have ever read a book about sports before, and I probably will not have ever read this book except it is the first category in this year's ReadHarder Challenge. The book follows the St. Louis Cardinals as they play a three game series against the Chicago Cubs in late August 2003. The main focus is on Tony LaRussa, the former Cardinals manager, but still gives a lot of insight into the players and coaches as well. I have to admit that I found myself far less interested in the drama of the games' play-by-plays and more interested in the different asides the author took. Examples of these asides include parts on the etiquette of hitting hitters with wild pitches, the evolution of stealing bases, the steroid scandal, and dealing with injured players. I also enjoyed reading about which players are whiny, which are narcissistic, which are hard working, and which are teachable. There was also a section on Darryl Kile and how he acted in his last few days before his tragic death just before a scheduled 2002 game against the Cubs.

Parts of the book lost me a bit, however, especially when we get the play-by-play of the thee games. Thankfully, the author skips certain innings that were quick 1-2-3 outs. Although I learned a lot about a game that I love, the sports non-fiction genre is not one I would have normally read. It helped that I love the Cardinals.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Bookshop on the Corner: a novel/ Jenny Colgan/ 332 pages

The Bookshop on the Corner written by Jenny Colgan presents in interesting idea.  The Birmingham, England library is closing branches, downsizing it's and collection and going hi-tech.  Media specialist are in and librarians are out.  Nina hopes to retain her job as librarian, all the while collecting the spoils of discarded books.  After losing out to friend Griffin, for the one job opening and having her book collection threaten serious structural damage to her roommates home, Nina embarks on an adventure.  Up in the Scottish highlands is an old van, perfect for Nina's idea of a rolling bookstore.  Her stock?  All those discarded library books.  After a few mis-starts, Nina gets her van up and going.  All that is to find romance.  Will it be midnight train engineer, Marek or sheep farmer Lennox who fulfills her dream?  This is a light read that presents some interesting concepts and presents Scotland in a very nice light.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Under the Egg / Laura Marx Fitzgerald / 247 pages

   One of my favorite books when I was a kid and still today is From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. I am always intrigued when I find a novel that is compared to Files. Fitzgerald has presented a strong young lady to follow in Claudia Kincaid's footsteps.

   Theodora Tenpenny has a lot on her plate. She is responsible for taking care of her mother, the house and the chickens in the backyard. All on $463. Her grandfather died leaving all the responsibilities on her shoulders. Theo doesn't mind but she is getting worried about this treasure she is supposed to find. Before he died, Grandfather said "It's under the egg." On the wall in her grandfather's art studio is a picture of an egg. Not a masterpiece but a family heirloom. What exactly is she supposed to do?

   In the following pages Theo and the reader go on quite an adventure. We learn about Renaissance art, World War II and the Monuments Men, art restoration and authentication and libraries. One of the characters in the book is a rockin' librarian who helps Theo when she is out of ideas. The display of database knowledge was so apropos - I laughed out loud. There is quite a lot packed into this book. So much so I think some readers may give up. Please don't - the adventure is worth the reward! I thoroughly recommend this book to 6th graders and up. Even adults would enjoy the story and all that Theo finds. Could a sequel be in the works??

6 degrees of reading: From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg, Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin.

Truly, Madly, Guilty/ Liane Moriarty/ 418 pages

Great read. Didn't want to put it down.  An air of mystery about what happened during a bbq between 3 different couples and the 3 children present. I think part of the mystery for me was that I knew nothing about the story, just that I had liked the author.  I didn't even read the blurb on the jacket.  But, I was hooked from the beginning, and I didn't see all the different layers coming at me.

The Cell/ Stephen King/ 355 pages

If you like zombie books, I think you will like The Cell.  I had an
ticipated something a little more like "The Stand", but it's a different kind of infection happening in the cell.  Zombies but not quite.  Stephen King is a master storyteller, while I wasn't sure at the beginning of the story (I have not read Zombie-like books before), I was hooked and left wanting more...

Monday, January 9, 2017

Girl Waits With Gun / Amy Stewart / 408 pages

   I like cozy mysteries and great writing and sometimes it is difficult to get both at the same time. In this novel you get both in spades. Constance Kopp and her two sisters are going to town in their horse drawn buggy when a car collides with them. All survive with bumps and bruises but the buggy is destroyed. Constance gets the name of the driver Henry Kaufman and promptly sends an invoice for a new buggy. This encounter begins their adventures in a world outside of their farm and finding their voice in it.
   The character of Constance is different than most. She is strong-minded, independent, taller than most men and wants to make her own way in the world. The appearance of the county sheriff Robert Heath gives her courage to face the most challenging of obstacles. The two of them working together gives the reader an eye into what it was like for a woman living on her own, without a husband as society dictated and how she was to persist in life. Great historical detail complete with newspaper headlines help round out this wonderful tale. I am looking forward to the next installment.
  I am not giving the secret away but you MUST read the author notes in the afterward - what a wonderful surprise! I heartily recommend this book for mystery readers as well as romance readers.

6 degrees of reading: The Tumbling Turner Sisters by Juliette Fay, Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal, Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear.

IQ / Joe Ide / 321 p

Isaiah Quintabe was a 16 year old urban teen in LA with a great future. Teachers were already beginning to talk about Ivy league school applications when Isaiah's brother and guardian was killed by a hit and run driver. From that point on Isaiah had two goals - stay out of the foster care system and find his brother's killer. He drops out of school and by chance helps someone in the neighborhood solve a mystery. He realizes that his Sherlock Holmes-like deduction skills can be used to help others and support himself. He calls himself IQ. Soon he is being inundated with requests for help.  Unfortunately, the people who need help. Years later, a sketchy friend from his past hooks him up with a famous rapper who barely escaped a murder attempt. IQ must find who is trying to kill him and somehow keep himself out of the hit-man's cross-hairs. As IQ gets closer to solving the mystery, the author weaves in IQ's backstory and we learn why he funnels most of his money to a young Hispanic teen who is disabled with a traumatic brain injury.

This book would be a good recommendation for those who liked the Girl With the Dragon Tatoo books. The language is gritty and not for those wanting a cosy mystery. I suspect we might be seeing more IQ books in the future.

Lake House: a novel/ Kate Morton/ 495 pages

The Lake House: a novel written by Kate Morton is a double mystery that leads the reader through several twists.  The book is written in present time and flashbacks to when the crime occurred.  Detective Sadie Sparrow is on leave in Cornwall visiting her grandfather, Bertie.  While there she comes across a house, a ruin almost, deep in the woods.  Bertie explains that the house once belonged to the Edevane family and is now owned by mystery writer, Alice Edevane.  Through the dual story lines the reader learns of others who lived in the house and the disappearance of Theo, Alice's baby brother.  This book will hold your attention as Alice's story parallels Sadie's and then diverges.  The author does a good job leading the reader astray and then bringing them back to the truth.

A Dog's Journey (sequel to A Dog's Purpose) / W. Bruce Cameron / 336 pgs

A Dog's Journey is the sequel to A Dog's Purpose, soon to be released as a movie in the cinemas at the end of the month. Whereas in A Dog's Purpose, the dog who is known alternatively as Toby, Bailey, Ellie, and Buddy learns that his purpose is to love and protect his boy, Ethan, in the sequel, our canine hero learns that his/her purpose is to love Ethan's granddaughter, C.J., and ultimately to love and take care of all humans. Buddy is still alive at the beginning of the book, but ultimately passes and is reborn as Molly, then Max, and finally Toby again. The ending is sweet and might require tissues. I really enjoyed both books, and although it is wrapped up perfectly, I sure wish there was another book. Very well done, and I can't wait for the movie, so I can take my dog-loving husband to go see it.

 P.S. I am totally a cat person, and have my own four-legged friend who takes care of me, Mia, but that didn't keep me from loving both of Mr. Cameron's books.

P.P.S. This book fulfills a few of the challenges I started in 2017 and it is the first book I started in the New Year. The challenges include:

The #2017FullHouseReadingChallenge - Category: Page Turner
The #2017AudioBookChallenge - No Category
The #2017PopSugarReadingChallenge - Category 21: A book from a nonhuman perspective

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Next Best Thing/Jennifer Weiner/389 pgs.

As a 3 year-old, Ruth Saunders survived a horrific car accident which left her parents dead, and one side of her face disfigured. Her spunky grandmother took over Ruth's care, seeing her through countless operations, and always being there for her. After graduating from college, Ruth follows her dream to go to California to become a screenwriter. Her grandmother goes with her, and Ruth eventually lands an assistant job to two "Daves"--both successful writers in Hollywood. They mentor Ruth, and she eventually gets "the Call" to produce her own television show. It's not what Ruth expects, and the reader is given an insider's view to the making of a successful television show. The book is a fast read, interesting characters and story line, and one that I can easily recommend!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Little Paris Bookshop / Nina George / 392 pgs

I just finished this book for my next book club meeting, and honestly, it was really ho-hum to me. Perhaps I'm not such a lover of French sensibilities and would have preferred the setting of England and a bit more of an uptight Englishman as the main character. Perhaps I just didn't have much empathy for a guy who had an affair with a married woman who left him over twenty years before. Perhaps I could barely relate to the books and authors mentioned in Ms. George's book. Many of the titles and books mentioned were fake, not even real, and that annoyed me. I think I'm being generous giving this book three stars. I should probably give it less, but I can't say it was the worst book I've ever read, just one that I never care to pick up again.

The book concerns a 50 year old man named Jean Perdu who runs a Literary Apothecary on a barge on the Seine in Paris. Mr. Perdu has the ability to be able to ask a few questions of a customer and instantly figure out which book will cure what ails them, even if they don't know that they have an ailment. However, Mr. Perdu's ailment is that he still grieves the woman who left him 20 years before without saying good-bye. When he finds a letter she wrote him that he never opened, he discovers that things were not as they seemed two decades before. Along with some new friends, Mr. Perdu unmoors his bookshop barge and takes it down the canals and rivers of France all the way to the Provence.

Family Tree/Susan Wiggs/356 pgs.

Annie Harlow appears to have it all: she's a producer of popular cooking television show, and her "hunky" husband, Martin,  is the star chef of the show. Life is good, until an unfortunate accident sends Annie into a coma, turning her life upside down. She eventually returns to her old family home in Switchback, Vermont, to recuperate, and where the past catches up with present, and helps to determine her future. It's an enjoyable read with well developed characters, and a happy ending. Recommended!

I Let You Go/Clare Mackintosh/369 pgs.

5 year-old Jacob is killed by a hit-and-run driver on a dark, rainy afternoon. It is up to the Bristol police investigators to determine who the driver was who left the scene of the accident, and bring that person to justice. I don't want to give away much of the story, so I will say that I stayed up until 4:00 in the morning to see how all of the twists and turns played out. The book has been recommended for fans of "Gone Girl," but I found it a much more suspenseful, and better written, story. It's hard to believe that this is a debut novel--highly recommended!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Bone Collection: Four Novellas/ Kathy Reichs/ 388 pages

The Bone Collection is a group of four short works by Kathy Reichs.  Each deals with a different story of Temperance Brennan's work as a forensic anthropologist.  Bones in Her Pocket is tale of a water logged body and raptor rescue.  Swamp Bones takes the reader to the Florida Everglades and introduces the world of Python roundup.  Bones on Ice explores the conquest of Everest and what can go wrong.  First Bones tells the reader how Tempe moved from academia to police work.  Each is an interesting read in the hands on style of Reichs previous books.  These books will appeal to the reader who likes the puzzle solving aspect of a murder mystery.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

I've Got You Under My Skin/ Mary Higgins Clark/ 303 p

Laurie Moran wants to produce a true crime reality television show that takes a new look at old murder cases. The premise of "Under Suspicion" is while a murder is unsolved, those closest to the victim remain "under suspicion." For the first show, she's chosen the case of Betsy Powell. Betsy was found suffocated in her bed after a celebration for her daughter and friends. Bringing everyone together, Laurie and her staff begin to unravel the truths from the lies, finding secrets that may or may not point to the person who got away with murder.

Unsolved murder is a topic that hits close to home for Laurie. Her three year old son watched his father, Laurie's husband, murdered by someone with a grudge. Timmy, who calls the killer, "blue eyes", also relaid a message to Laurie. She would be next, then Timmy. Her husband's killer was never caught so she must always be on her guard.

This is a great read for someone who enjoys mysteries and suspense without a lot of graphic violence or language.

Three Weddings and a Bar Mitzvah/ Melody Carlson/ 294 p

In this last installment of the 86 Bloomberg Place series, Lelani has returned from Maui with her baby and an engagement ring from Gil, Anna's brother. She wants a simple ceremony but Gil and Anna's mama wants a big Latino celebration. Since Lelani is estranged from her own controlling mom, she doesn't want to harm the relationship with Gil's strong-willed mom. Kendall found love unexpectedly when she was rescued by a local plumber. She has finally gotten help for her money issues and has been helping Lelani with Emma. When her "Maui Man" proposes, Kendall's family rushes in to take over planning the wedding. They still treat her like the spoiled air-head that she used to be much to her frustration. Megan and Marcus finally share the same faith but when Marcus goes to Africa on a mission trip, Megan begins to doubt if they will ever be on the same page. Anna knows she loves Edmund but now he seems to be interested in someone else at the office.

With all this angst and two weddings to plan, there's lots to resolve to bring this trilogy to a satisfying conclusion. Another good read for Christian fiction fans.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Let Them Eat Fruitcake/Melody Carlson/ 302 p.

This is the second book in the 86 Bloomberg Place series. Megan, Lelani, Anna and Kendall are settling in as roommates. But they each are dealing with their own problems. Megan's boss is mean. Her job isn't what she wants to do - she's a teacher not a designer. Her mom, still dealing with the death of Megan's dad, is going on a cruise for Christmas leaving Megan on her own. Lelani, who had a child out of wedlock, is feeling the pull to go home to see the little girl that she left in the care of her parents. But her parents aren't all that welcoming. Anna's old boyfriend is back just has handsome and charming as ever. Now she's not sure if she wants the "nice guy" she's been seeing or her first love. She may find out too late who she really loves and who really loves her. And Kendall meets and sleeps with a married actor at a party and she's decided they are meant to be. Especially after she finds out that she's pregnant.
Not your typical Christian fiction book. There were some characters I liked more than others but all in all a good Christmas read.

Inheriting Edith/ Zoe Fishman/ 290 pages

Inheriting Edith by Zoe Fisherman introduces the reader to Maggie, a single mother, just making ends meet as a cleaning lady.  When Liza, a past client turned friend, commits suicide, she leaves Maggie her beach house.  Their is one string attached.  Maggie must care for Edith, Liza's mother, who currently resides in the house.  Edith is a strongly independent 85 year old, recently diagnosed with  Alzheimer's.  Maggie, daughter Lucy, Edith and friend Esther set off on an adventure to  resolve some questions, open some doors, close some wounds while Edith can still remember her life.  This was a interesting read shining a light on Alzheimer while remaining light.

Twelve Drummers Drumming/ C. C. Benison/ 384 pages

Twelve Drummers Drumming by C. C. Benison is the first offering of the Father Christmas series.  The reader is introduced to newly widowed Fr. Christmas and his daughter, Miranda.  They have just moved from London to the small village of Thornford Regis, a safe, friendly town.  That changes when the body of a young girl is found stuffed into a Japanese drum that was to be part of the May Fair.  Fr. Christmas works with the local police to solve the mystery.  Along the way the reader meets the locals in Thornford Regis and the nature of their relationships.  This was an interesting novel to read.  Of course, being the introduction of a series makes it more so, since the reader does not know who the 'regulars' are at this point.  If the reader likes cozy mysteries this should fit the bill nicely.

Monday, December 19, 2016

I Heart Bloomberg / Melody Carlson /292 p.

Anna, Lelani and Megan don't know one another but they all have one thing in common -- they are needing to find a new place to live. An ad in the local paper for tenants to share a "luxurious house" in a great neighborhood has each of them sending in a resume and hoping to be one of the lucky girls to be picked for this too-good-to-be-true housing arrangement. After they are chosen by Kendall to share her house, they soon realize that Kendall hasn't been entirely truthful with them. Kendall's grandmother gave her a large run-down home and she's hoping that new furniture and accessories will distract her tenants from the reality. If she plays her cards right, she's hoping her new tenants will finance her shopaholic habits and become her new BFFs - on her selfish terms. Each of the girls, have their own heartaches and faults but they are soon working together to make Bloomberg Place the home they were hoping to share.

This is a sweet, if not realistic, story of how friendships are made in the most unlikely ways. The first book in the Bloomberg Place series.

Paris for One & Other Stories/Jojo Moyes/174 pgs.

The main story in this short collection is "Paris for One." It's a routine love story--no real surprises--but with Moyes as the author, it's characters are more realistic, funny, and enjoyable. The other stories in the collection are entertaining, too, and a fast read for this busy time of year. Recommended.

Everything, Everything/Nicola Yoon/310 pags.

Madeline Whittier (Maddy) has spent the majority of her seventeen years confined to her home. She has been diagnosed with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disease (SCID); she is basically allergic to everything in the outside world. The only two people she has contact with are her mother, and her nurse, Carla--that is until new neighbors move in next door. Oliver (Olly) is a teenager around Madeline's age. They begin communicating via email and chatting--leading Maddy to want something she hasn't experienced before: a normal life as a teenager. Olly has his own family issues, which causes Maddy to take risks she never considered. It's a fast read, told in Maddy's voice. I highly recommend this book; Nicola Yoon is fast becoming one of my favorite YA authors!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

All the Missing Girls/ Megan Miranda/ 368 pages

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda is a mystery story with a twist.  Nicolette Farrell has come home to Cooley Ridge, North Carolina, ten years after the disappearance of her friend Corine.  Recently engaged to lawyer, Everett, she packs up her belongings, sublets her apartment and drives home to help prepare her father's home for sale.  Her Dad has been moved to assisted living, his funds are almost gone, and he has sent her an odd letter about Corine.  Shortly after Nic arrives, a second girl disappears just as Corine.  Nic, her brother Daniel, and ex boyfriend Tyler work together to solve the mystery of the vanished girls.  The twist is that the book follows the story backward.  Once Nic arrives in Cooley Ridge the countdown begins with Day 15 and works backward to Day 1 and the final result.  Using this trick makes the story more compelling as more details fall into place to clarify what  has come before.

Settle For More / Megyn Kelly / 352 pgs

I have dying to read this book ever since I heard that it was coming out. I've been a long time fan of Megyn Kelly's because I perceived her as being one of the most independent journalists on the FOX News Channel.  I've seen her interview tons of people on various shows she has been on, and she doesn't suffer fools gladly. When Donald Trump started going after her last year, I was impressed on how she handled herself. At the same time, I was curious as to her actual political views since the liberals like to accuse her of being conservative and many conservatives like to accuse her of being liberal. To me, that seemed to mark someone who was really good at staying independent.

Her autobiography details her life growing up, her time in college, life as a lawyer, her two marriages, and learning to be a mommy. The language at first seemed stilted, like someone who is more used to writing legal reports than personal narratives, but it seemed to improve as she went along. In her book, Ms. Kelly explains that she was bullied in middle school, but as fickle kids' cliques go, she quickly went from being ostracized by classmates to becoming popular. She applied that lesson when Trump started bullying her last year. Besides talking about Trump, she addresses the issues with Roger Ailes and Gretchen Carlson. At times she names names, but often she doesn't, likely because she still works with the people on FOX, and doesn't want to embarrass them or herself.

I recommend the book for those who are fans of Megyn Kelly or would like to know more about what she calls "The Year of Trump."

The Autobiography of Santa Claus / Jeff Guinn / 290 pgs

I desperately needed this book though I had no idea at the time I started it. It has truly gotten me into the Christmas spirit. I have no good reason not to be in the spirit of Christmas, it just wasn't hitting me for some reason. The Autobiography of Santa Claus is just that, it is Santa Claus himself writing down his 1735 year history. Like most people know, Santa Claus was born in 280 AD in a small town in what is now Turkey. His name was Nicholas (most people didn't have surnames back then). He grew up to be the Bishop of Myra. History says that Nicholas died when he was 63 years old in the year 343, but the true story is that he left his life in Myra and ended up becoming the most renown gift giver of all time. Years later, he married, and has made many famous friends who have become his helpers. Over the years, he ended up acquiring flying reindeer and a home at the North Pole. 

The story is divided into 24 chapters, so one could start on December 1st, reading only one chapter a day, and finish on Christmas Eve. The story is also written with children in mind, so the language is pretty simple, although Santa does talk about topics like slavery and war, and how those things keep him from giving gifts to all the kids he would like. I highly recommend reading it yourself to learn more about what life was like for St. Nicholas and how different traditions about Santa Claus came to be, but I also think it ought to be read to kids as well.