Sunday, August 31, 2014

Out of the Easy, Ruta Sepetys, 346 pages

Josie Moraine works and lives in a bookstore, has hopes of attending Smith College in Massachusetts and is the cleaning lady at the Brothel.  All is going well until Josie's mother returns with her beau, Cincinnati.  When a fine gentleman from Tennessee dies in the Quarter, Josie becomes involved the mystery surrounding his death.  Josie's mother and Cincinnati continue to add to her problems in devious ways.  This book contains a vast array of interesting characters, and intriguing lifestyles set in New Orleans French Quarter.    

The Twelve Rooms of the Nile / Enid Shomer / 480 pgs

     What do you think would happen if Gustave Flaubert met Florence Nightingale while on vacation in Egypt in the early nineteenth century? Well, in reality they didn't but were in Egypt at the same time. So it is possible they could have crossed paths at some point. Talk about two polar opposites! Enid Shomer has taken on this interesting conundrum and has left us with a rather interesting tale. Gustave is traveling with a friend Max Du Camp who has taken their governmental charge rather seriously. Max is taking pictures of the wonders of Egypt as the two of them cruise up and down the Nile. Gustave has taken on the task of doing 'squeezes' (impressions) of the carvings. Florence is traveling with an older couple to get away from her family for a while. They are unhappy with her dismissal of a marriage suitor and her strange curiosity about life. 
    The two cross paths and invite one another for dinner and a curious friendship is born. This story isn't hurried rather like a journey on the Nile. The writing is filled with the sights and sounds of Egypt. The Sphinx and pyramids have just been discovered and the spectacle of the past underscores a lot of the book. Does one stick to family's expectations or go off down a small path in the hopes it will lead to something bigger? With some exciting adventures along with way, our wayward duo try to find some answers. 
    This isn't a novel to be rushed through. It moves rather languidly and can be confusing in places. Max speaks French and it isn't translated so we are left wondering what he just said. Also the two male characters visit brothels on a regular basis and things can get explicit. Shomer could have used more of an editor but the story itself is rather intriguing. Recommended for history buffs.

Six Degrees of Reading:  Cascade: A Novel by Maryanne O'Hara, The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri, In The Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner. 

The Forbidden Library / Django Wexler / 373 pgs

   A fantasy debut novel from someone who used to work for Microsoft. This was also part of Penguin YA Early Word program. Alice has a wonderful life with her father in their ramshackle house. Until one night when she overhears a conversation that changes everything. Her father tells her he must go on a trip and will be back as soon as he can. Unfortunately the ship he is on sinks with all hands lost. Alice is sent to live an 'uncle' she has never met. She is pretty sure this man isn't any uncle of hers but doesn't have a choice. Uncle Geryon lives in a huge house with only two other people: Mr Black who seems to be everything from chauffeur to butler and Emma who might be a friend or not. But the only good thing to rise out of this situation is the Library where there are more books then Alice has ever dreamed of.
   When it turns out Alice may have some magical abilities, Uncle Geryon begins to teach her basic skills. He sends her back to the Library to help find magical texts that may solve a problem he has been working on. While wandering among the shelves she meets two more eccentric characters: Ashes who is a talking cat and Isaac who is on a quest of his own. Alice discovers Mr Black may have the answer to the riddle of her father's death. What happens next is quite a grand adventure. I was lost in the pages of this book almost immediately. There are exquisite black and white drawings scattered among the pages depicting some of the strange creatures Alice encounters. Be warned! Once you start this you won't want to stop. If an audio is available - great for car rides of all ages.

Six Degrees of Reading: The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson, The Thickety: A Path Begins by Andrea Offermann, The Ninja Librarians: The Accidental Keyhand by Jen Swann Downey.

The Crown of Embers / Rae Carson / 416 pgs / 10 discs

   I couldn't wait to start this middle book of the Girl of Fire and Thorn trilogy. The first book had ended with a bang and I wanted to see where the pieces had fallen. Elisa has won the war for her people but with a cost. The court has been maneuvering while she has been recovering and the people are not happy. During her birthday celebration chaos erupts when an enemy appears and tries to hurt her. Soon it is rumored there may have been spies living in the city all along. No one knows who to trust. Elisa tries to lead her people the best she knows but seems to be thwarted at every turn. While trying to find her way a possible solution appears but she will have to deceive her people in order to help them. Thus begins another exciting quest.
   This book picks right up where the first one ends. As the new Queen, Elisa is learning on the job with Hector her Royal commander by her side. The thrills of her story never let up as she fights off assassins, deceivers in her court and the demands of her own heart. It is almost a relief when she finally leaves the city to find the answers to the magical power at her command. The writing style is enthralling, crisp and free flowing. The pages/discs just keep flying as Elisa's adventures and choices becoming harder and harder. I wasn't sure how this book would end. There is still another one to go! I am not completely satisfied with the ending but maybe that will be fixed in the third volume. Would love a map - Elisa's journeys seem to be literally all over the world. Heartily recommended.

Six Degrees of Reading: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, Graceling by Kristin Cashore.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns / Rae Carson / 432 pgs / 10 discs

   Who is up for adventure, romance, fantastic escapes and some awesome writing?! I recommend this series with unreserved enthusiasm! Meet Elisa who is the second daughter to a king. She has a happy life with her nurse, tutor and secret visits to the head cook. One day her father announces she is to marry a man she has never met plus he lives in a far away kingdom. Elisa reluctantly does as her father asks and on the day of the marriage receives some strange advice from her sister "Be strong, sister."
    This is the beginning of a non-stop adventure with Elisa trying to find her place in the new court, figure out what her sister meant and how to help her husband become a strong leader. As she learns who to trust, Elisa begins to fall in love with her husband. Then one night, Elisa is kidnapped from her bedroom and begins a new role for a supposed enemy. As the days go by, Elisa discovers hidden strengths and untapped knowledge within her self and begins a slow transformation into a formidable woman. An excellent coming of age novel hidden within a quest, romantic and adventure novel.
    The narrator chosen for the audio is perfect. Jennifer Ikeda is perfect for the voice of Elisa and works in different accents and gruffness when dealing with multiple characters. I was racing through the disks trying to see how things would end. My only quibble with the novel is some unresolved story lines. I am not sure if we will meet Elisa's father and sister in the next books but they seem to left dangling. Also this book cries out for a map. I would have loved to keep track of Elisa's physical journey. I think this would have enforced the growth of the main character. I also recommend this for car journeys of higher middle grade and up.

Six degrees of Reading: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, Defiance by C.J. Redwine, Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin by Robin LaFevers.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Map Trap / Andrew Clements / 130 pages

Alton Ziegler's affinity for maps began the day he was born.  On the way to the hospital, his mom and dad consulted a map, and perusing the alphabetical listing of Illinois cities, decided upon Alton as the name for their soon-to-be-born baby. The map was mounted in his room, near his crib.  New baby gifts included a light-up globe night light and a map of the U.S. rug.  When he was 7, he discovered the maps in his mom's National Geographic magazines and used them to cover the wall and ceiling of his room - a major mapquake.  Not surprisingly, he's into geocaching and his nickname is Sirmapsalot.  Unfortunately, Alton's secret maps have been mapnapped and the mapnappers are blackmailing him.  Is a preemptive strike and honesty the best policy?  As is always true of Andrew Clements' books, this is an excellent read-a-loud.

Renegade / Debra Driza / 438 pages

Mila 2.0 sequel
MILA is an android and she is on the run.  She escaped from General Holland who ordered her exterminated.  During the escape, her mother was shot and bled out in her arms.  Before she died she mentioned two names - Richard Grady and Sarah.  Mila is determined to find them.  They may hold the key to her past...and her present and future.  Hunter Lowe, a friend from high school, answered her panicked plea for help.  Although Mila 2.0 is Ms. Driza's first book, she definitely hit the ground running.  Both books are action-packed, fast-paced, and filled with suspense.  Can't wait for the third book in this trilogy.

The Insider / Ridley Pearson / 609 pages / April Challenge Rain

 Kingdom Keepers VII
This is the final installment in the Kingdom Keepers series and is filled with all the character present in previous books.  (Even Dillard, who died in a previous book, makes a comeback.)  This book is an extensive tour of Disneyland, Disney movies and characters, and the legacy of Walt Disney, set amid a fast-paced, do-or-die adventure.  "With its action sequences and moments of touching intimacy, Kingdom Keepers VII: The Insider will leave listeners breathless, cheering and biting their nails.  It's a winner-take-all battle for the magical good." (audio cover endorsement)

"Sometimes life is about learning to surf the waves you can't stop."

Navy SEAL Dogs: My Tale of Training the Canines / Mike Ritland / 190 pages / 8 Maids a Milking December Challenge

This book, written by a former Navy SEAL, is chock full of facts about fantastic four-legged indomitable warriors - Navy SEAL dogs.  Mr. Ritland now trains dogs for combat and includes specific training suggestions and several accounts of dogs in action.  Belgian Malinois possess both traits necessary to be multi-purpose Navy SEAL dogs - a hyper prey drive and a hyper hunt drive.  They cost about $50,000 to train and only 1 in 10,000 makes the grade. I found the cover art captivating, the text a bit slow and perhaps too detail oriented. The anecdotal accounts were both interesting and inspiring.

A Matter of Days / Amber Kizer / 275 pages / 8 Maids a Milking December Challenge

"Be the cockroach." This was the advice given to sixteen year old Nadia and her younger brother, Rabbit, by their special ops dad.  This advice and her younger brother's affinity for the training sessions with their dad helped them survive the panic and the terrors that came after the Blustar pandemic.  When their mom dies of the dreaded disease, they follow their Uncle Bean's advice to make their way to their grandfather in West Virginia.  The road takes them through a lawless world of destruction, deprivation, and greed.  Along the way they pick up an injured dog, a street-wise kid from LA, and a young girl abandoned in a mall.  This is a "gripping, and yes, infectious tale." (Michael Northup, author of Trapped)  Rabbit's ingenuity and Nadia's common sense and integrity make this a cut above most dystopian tales.

"Kindness was all we had to give in this new world."

Truman Award Preliminary Nominee 2015-16

The Lincoln Myth / Steve Berry / 622 pages / American Historical Fiction Challenge

From the very beginning when we learn that Lincoln told the South they could have their slaves, raise a new flag, send representatives to Montgomery, and have their Confederacy - provided they allow the collection of Northern tariffs in their ports; and we are reminded that he won the election for president with only 40% of the popular vote, we are submersed in Civil War history, the politics that propelled the bloody conflict, and the Lincoln myth has been perpetuated throughout history.  Abraham Lincoln did not wish to free slaves.  He wanted to protect the union.  The Founding Fathers believed the right to establish a more perfect union was an inalienable right.  They favored states' rights/sovereignty to the extent that they are specifically guaranteed.  Had Lincoln followed precedent, 600,000 people would not have died, but the United States, as we know it, most assuredly would have ceased to exist.
This is a most informative book centering on a pact made between President Lincoln and the Mormon Church.  Filled with facts about America's Founding Fathers, beliefs and practices of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and President Lincoln and his life, times, and philosophies, The Lincoln Myth alternates between the various international players caught up in a grand conspiracy, capturing the reader's attention from the very first page and compelling one to non-stop read the book in its entirety.  Be sure to set aside appropriate time and have a pencil and paper available for notes.

Fallout / Todd Strasser / 258 pages

"How do you apply logic to something that makes no sense?"
This was really two stories in one told in alternate chapters.  One tells of Scott and his friends during the summer and fall of 1962, as the world held its breath during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the school sponsored duck and cover drills, the boys engaged in adolescent pranks and questionable pursuits, and Scott's father decides to build a bomb shelter.  The second story recounts events after the bomb is detonated and Scott's family retreats to their haven.  Unfortunately, they are not alone.  The second story is profound, frightening, and thought-provoking.  I found the first to be irreverent and disrespectful. Perhaps the author it was much needed comic relief for the tragedy embedded in the second.  There is an excellent Afterword detailing the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Truman Award Preliminary Nominee 2015-16

Steelheart / Brandon Sanderson / 386 pages / April Challenge Rain

The Calamity, whatever it was, created epics, superhuman ordinary people with extraordinary powers...and critical weaknesses.  Originally people were in awe of the epics and anticipated that they would use their powers for good - like Superman.  Unfortunately, with the powers came a desire to rule, to crush mankind to their will.  New 'Cago (formerly Chicago) is ruled by one such epic, Steelheart, who has declared himself emperor.  During his original rise to power, he killed David's father and others in a bank building. Growing up in a factory orphanage, Davis studied and plotted his revenge.  He joins a group of rebels, the Reckoners, whose mission is simply to kill epics. 
This is an action-packed story with several clever, if somewhat predictable, plot twists.

Firefight is the sequel.

Gateway Award Preliminary Nominee 2015-16

The Darkest Path / Jeff Hirsch / 320 pages / April Challenge Rain

Although I loved The Eleventh Plague and Magesterium, I couldn't quite get into this book by Jeff Hirsch.  The United States is at war with the Glorious Path, a pseudo-religious group determined to control all.  When they capture prisoners, they are given the choice to join their religion or die.  Fifteen year old Callum Roe and his younger brother James were captured and chose life.  Cal works in the dog kennels and is intent upon moving up through the ranks.  He had been promised citizen rank for himself and his brother if he took part in an important spy mission.  The mission is successful, but the promise is broken, and Cal is disheartened by the devastation his helped cause.  When Cal kills a cruel commander who wants to train a runaway dog to be a vicious attack dog and mistreats the dogs in his care, he is forced to run for his life. He is surprised to discover that his brother does not want to go and in fact, wants to return after they escape.  Cal battles his way across the U.S. and is determined to reunite with his parents in New York.

Truman Award Preliminary Nominee 2015-16

The Haunting of Gabriel Ashe / Dan Poblocki / 277 pages

Gabriel Ashe's father is "the builder of beasts" (monster puppets) and his grandmother is an illustrator of Gothic horror.  Gabe wondered why his family seemed to surround themselves with darkness.  Was this his destiny too?  He sometimes thought that the fire that destroyed their home and his father's workshop and work was a good thing.  The move to his grandmother's had enabled him to make a new start and escape the ridicule of his former classmates.  His friendship with Seth and their game of robber prince leads him to believe that good things may begin to happen.  But Gabriel's new friends and his grandmother seem opposed to the friendship.  Is the game really a game?
This is a riveting ghost story, a supreme tale of the supernatural, well-seasoned with the many nuances of friendship and peer pressure.  It's going to be difficult to keep this one on the shelves.  The cover art is a definite plus.

Truman Award Preliminary Nominee 2015-16

Friday, August 29, 2014

Liar & Spy / Rebecca Stead 180 p.

Georges (named for Georges Seurat) moves into a Brooklyn apartment building.  When he signs up for the Spy Club he meets Safer, a coffee-drinking 12 year old.  Safer begins spy training.  They spy on Mr. X who lives in the apartment above Georges.  Safer's family is eccentric and nice.  Only Safer's older brother, Pigeon goes to school and that was once he was of high school age.  Georges is happy to hang out with Safer's family, especially since his dad lost his job and his mother has been working double shifts at the hospital.  Dallas & Co. are bullying him.  Even so just how far is Georges to go for is friend Safer as he becomes more getting him to assist with sneaking into Mr. X's apartment.  Georges does change as he finds the courage to be himself.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Chocolate Rose, Laura Florand, 252 pages

Jolie's first cookbook has been published and it features her father's famous three star recipes.  The cover is the beautiful chocolate rose developed by his past sous chef and sworn enemy, Gabriel Delange.  Jolie is caught off guard when Gabriel sues her for using his rose without his permission.  Jolie travels to the south of France to confront Gabriel.  They make a deal, but will their budding romance be a hindrance or a help to the situation?  This book gave a few glimpses into the workings of a restaurant kitchen and the interactions of the staff.  Most of the book focused on the romance between Jolie and Gabriel.

Ballet Beautiful, Bowers, Mary Helen, 250 pages

This nonfiction work is a combination of lifestyle, exercise and diet written by a former ballerina.  The book covers multiple topics including self image and confidence.  It moves on to an exercise routine based on ballet conditioning.  Most of this takes place on a mat, no barre needed.  Finally Mary Helen covers diet in a pretty sensible way.  Don't let yourself be hungry, but learn to make good choices when you do eat.  I used the book in combination with a companion DVD of the exercises.  The book cover more exercises than the DVD.  I found it a plus that the exercises are very repetitive and easy to remember.  They can be done while listening to music or watching TV without the need for the DVD.

Scared Scriptless, Alison Sweeny, 309 pages

Maddy is the script girl for a popular TV drama.  Her number one rule is never date and actor.  But things become a little gray when her bosses boss, Craig, takes an interest in her.   Craig uses Maddy's original  idea for a reality show set in her how town of Wolf and pitches it as if it were his idea.  Maddy struggles to make the show a success to help her home town's economy, without the usual 'high drama' gimmicks of a reality show.  I enjoyed the story, but wish there had been more behind the scenes glimpses of how a TV show is made.

Irresistible / Mary Balogh 313 p. Dec. Challenge 5 Gold Rings

Sophia Armitage is a friend and a kind person.  She agrees to help Sir Nathaniel Gascoigne find a husband for his cousin Lavinia during the London season.  While there she wouldn't say know no to finding one for herself.  But the cards are not stacked for her, men just are not attracted to her...she is more of a companion even to her husband while he was alive. Sophia has a secret.  Nathaniel suspects this but Sophia won't share.  She won't ask for help.  It involves her late husband who was an honorable and decorated soldier.  Nathaniel and his friends have long admired Sophia while they served in the war.  But one night it changes.  And she finds herself in the arms of Nathaniel.  But her secret must remain a secret.  She chooses to go her own way.  But will she always be alone?

Once Upon a Kiss / Nora Roberts and 3 others 376 p. Dec. Challenge 5 Gold Rings

Four stories by four romance authors.

A World Apart by Nora Roberts features a beautiful demon slayer from early times pursues a demon into the 21st century New York where she joins up with a P.I.

Impossible by Jill Gregory is a Romeo/Juliet type of romance between members of two warring families.

Sealed with a Kill by Ruth Ryan Langan involves a princess who's father gives her in marriage in payment for a debt, that of the warlord defending his lands from marauders; but she falls for the warrior.

Kiss Me, Kate by Marianne Willman has an American inheriting an English manor with an enchanted frog prince.  But is he the one for her?

Sherlock Files: The 100-Year Old Secret / Tracy Barrett 157 p.

Xena and Xander Holmes believe they will be bored living in London-- until they discover that they are related to Sherlock Holmes. Life is much more exciting when they get his unsolved casebook.  Using 100-year old clues, they begin investigating his case of the missing painting.  Using interviews, following leads, and using logic to put 2 and 2 together, they find the long lost painting.

Dollbaby / Laura Lane McNeal / 352 pages

   A debut novel from a woman who grew up in New Orleans. Ibby Bell has just been dumped on her grandmother's front walk. She has never met this woman and in fact has been warned about this woman her entire life. Ibby's mom has just driven off without a goodbye kiss and forgotten to give Ibby her suitcase. Fortunately for her, Queenie is around. She is Fannie's (the grandmother) cook and all around housekeeper. Queenie's daughter Dollbaby also helps around the house, cleaning and sewing and doing whatever needs to be done. Fannie has been alone for most of her life: her husband having never come back from a tugboat journey. She welcomes Ibby (short for Liberty) into her home and begins to initiate her in the ways of the South.
   There are secrets in that house and Ibby learns how to live with them. Why does Fannie act funny when certain names are mentioned, why is there a locked room next to hers and why does Dollbaby have different colored eyes? When Ibby starts school she learns her grandmother is a respected, feared and mocked woman in the town. Certainly Fannie has money but why do people tolerate her behavior? Ibby learns a lot about life and family while growing up in this novel. We meet some interesting characters like Crow, Queenie's husband, Mr. Henry the illegal bet taker who is only to enter through the backdoor, and Annabelle the neighborhood girl who takes an instant dislike to Ibby. They all create a welcoming world for Ibby as well as for the reader. I think patrons who loved To Kill a Mockingbird would appreciate this story. A well told coming of age novel set in some turbulent times of the South. Some language but not too strong. I received this from the Penguin First Flights program.

Six Degrees of Reading: The Right Thing by Amy Conner, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman and Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile.

The Wicked Girls / Alex Marwood / 378 pages

     A debut novel from a British journalist writing her first fiction novel. The novel begins with two eleven year old girls wandering the countryside of their small English village. They don't have any where to go as one is avoiding trouble at home while the other has been left home alone by her parents. A shocking event sends the two of them to prison for a portion of their young lives. Fast forward to the present day and Kirsty an up and coming journalist is trying to get a foot in the door of newspaper publishing. She has been sent to a small town which has been under attack from a serial killer. Amber Gordon works at the local carnival as a night cleaner. She is the new supervisor and isn't sure she wants the job. She finds the newest victim and Kirsty tries to interview her for the story. Suddenly past and present collide in a series of events that no one can predict the outcome.
    I will admit I was very skeptical when starting this book. For me, thrillers often run along the same predictable lines. This book however was jaw-dropping. Amber and Kirsty are two women just trying to get by in life and find a little happiness. But something always seems to be getting in their way and as the story goes on the tension gets tighter and tighter till the point where everything just explodes! I read this in two nights. I could not put it down. The writing style is accessible but I will admit to not getting all the English slang. The male characters don't seem to have a backbone among them and I thought that was a little sad. The killer when revealed was totally anti-climatic based on what happened next. WOW!!! I recommend this to anyone who has patrons who love good well-written hard core thrillers. There is language and some sexual content. Excellent start for Marwood. I did receive this from the Penguin First Flights program.

Six Degrees of Reading:  Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger, The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison, The Good Girl by Mary Kubica.

Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World / E. L. Konigsburg 244 p.

Amedeo Kaplan longs for a friend.  He makes one in the person of William Wilcox, with whom he works as Mrs. Wilcox prepares Mrs. Zender's house for sale.   Mrs. Zender, a former European opera star, has many curiosities like the Bibendum Chair (resembles the Michelin man).  These curiosities give hope to Amedeo's dream of making an important discovery.  (The cover gives one a clue about how this dream comes true).  The curiosities give clues to the past-- a past that turns out holds a life changing event.  As the friendships grow, the story moves to Peter Vanderwaal, Amedeo's godfather, who is curating a show for the Sheboygan Art Center featuring Degenerative Art - art the Nazi's sought to stop and even destroy.  Through Peter, the story of his Dutch father and the Holocaust is told as well as how the Nazis treated homosexuals.  Mrs. Zender's explanation of her marriage is interesting and it adds another clue to the secret--a secret that ends up affecting everyone.

This is one of my favorite authors.  I was happy to find this title new to me.

Hundred Dress / Eleanor Estes 80 p.

Wanda Petronski is different from all the other girls in her class.  When they joke and carry on, she just smiles from the sidelines.  She never has much to say.  She wears the same old blue dress every day.  It is always clean, but it's the same dress every day.  When she tells about the 100 dresses hanging in her closet at home, her classmates laugh at her.  They ask her about the dresses.  They carry on about all these 100 dresses.  Wanda describes them in great detail.  But the classmates scoff-- till they learn Wanda's secret.  A wonderful story that tackles the subject of bullies and those who don't actually participate...but let it happen.

It Happened One Night / Stephanie Laurens and 3 others 370 p. April Rainy Day Challenge

Four popular authors take the challenge to each write a story about a proper young lady stranded at a remote inn away from society's constraints.  This was a fun read.  Each author's style gave her story a different take on the theme.  The first opens with a twist on the "it was a dark and stormy night' line.  As these are all romance writers, a connection is made.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library / Chris Grabenstein 304 p.

Kyle Keeley loves to play board games.  His whole family loves board games.  They especially love the games by Mr. Lemoncello.  When Mr. Lemoncello designs the town's new library and is having an invitation only lock-in for the first night, Kyle is bound to be there.  The real challenge is in the getting out.  Those chosen few learn that "the way out is not the way in".  Mr. L. has a really big prize for the winner.  This is a delightful read.  The entire library is a board game.  The clues are in the books.  And Mr. Lemoncello even speaks in book titles (avid readers will get a kick out of this). Librarians will get a kick out of it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Witness / Nora Roberts / 488 p.

The day that 16 year old Elizabeth finally decides to rebel against her excessively controlling mother becomes a day of tragedy.  When her mother leaves for a medical conference, Elizabeth's first act of rebellion is to purchase her first pair of jeans. Unfortunately, a chance encounter with a classmate who is more than willing to assist Elizabeth with her new-found freedom, leads to witnessing murder and a life on the run to protect herself. Fast forward 12 years to "Abigail" who finds that life on the run to be unacceptable after meeting the small town chief of police in her new home. Finding love means needing to not just stay alive, but to truly live.

Ungifted / Gordon Korman / 288 pgs / 6 discs

     Donovan Curtis is your normal middle school kid with a tendency toward outrageous pranks. He gets into spitball wars with his best friends, broadcasts limericks over the school's PA system and (the best one yet) skips out of detention and whacks the school's statue with a branch only to watch part of it detach and roll down the hill and crash into the school's gym. With shattered glass showering most of the student body, Donovan learns he might have gone too far. The superintendent marches him into the office and begins The Lecture only to be interrupted by the arrival of the fire department. Donovan is told to leave and the discussion will continue tomorrow. Only it never does and in the meantime his family receives a letter notifying them he has been accepted into the gifted program.
     What the perfect place to hide! The Academy of Scholastic Distinction is for kids with IQs in the stratosphere. The classwork is way over his head and he isn't too sure what a pneumatic schematic is but Donovan brings the robotic team together in a way that might win the championship. But he cannot out run the consequences of his past actions. What happens next pure chaotic fun.
     I thoroughly enjoyed this Truman Award winning novel. The audio is done by several people but it does not detract from the story. Donovan reminds me of several guys I knew growing up so maybe that is why I connected with the story so quickly. The gifted students are portrayed with unique personalities that are endearing but shows how much pressure they feel in their lives. Does Donovan learn his lesson? Well, what do you think?

     Six Degrees of Reading: The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, Jake by Audrey Coulombis, Slob by Ellen Potter.

Soulless / Gail Carriger 373 p. Dec. Challenge 5 Gold Rings

England, under Queen Victoria's reign, has relaxed its social mores to allow vampires, werewolves, and preternaturals free access to society, provided they conduct themselves appropriately.  While Alexia Tarabotti takes a break from the ball, a vampire attacks her--so totally out of character for a hive vampire.  She warns him of his mistake, as preternatural she is soulless and has power to harm him, but he persists.  When she accidentally kills the vampire, Lord Maccon, head of the BUR (Bureau of Unnatural Registry), a division of Her Majesty's Civil Service, is sent to investigate.  The vampire society is in a state of flux with unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing.  When the hive queen has Alexia to tea (a very very unusually happening as vampires has long memories of when preternaturals hunted them), everyone seems to think she is in the know.  As she tries to figure out what is going on her path crosses and recrosses with Lord Maccon.  He finally "notices" her and marriage is discussed.  In this twist from a romance, he seems to want to marry her, but she declines.  The pace picks up as the two piece together what is happening and builds to an exciting conclusion.

Duke and I / Julia Quinn 371 p. Dec challenge 5 gold rings

The first Bridgerton novel features the almost-a-spinster Daphne.   Simon Basset has recently returned to England after spending many years on the continent.  He wants to stay "under the radar" of the marriage minded mothers.  As the Duke, he finds this is impossible.  As a friend of her brother, he frequently encounters Daphne at the London balls.  They agree to a sham courtship that benefits both.  With a duke showing interest, suitors flock to her; for him, the mother's lose interest.  As they spend more time together, she finds herself wanting the impossible...a Duke for a husband.  She has a tough row to hoe as he has a bitter legacy from his father to overcome and feels he cannot provide her what she wants.  This story is humorous.  The situations with her family make you laugh.  And the mother has more on the ball that her children realize.  I hope that her mother turns up again in the series.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Beach Girls/Luanne Rice/428 pp

Beach Girls is part of the  Hubbard’s Point Series that takes place in a beach community in Connecticut. When Stevie, Emma and Maddie were growing up, they called themselves the beach girls.  Friends forever.  After Emma dies, her husband and daughter come back to the area to heal from Emma's death and the betrayals it revealed. Emma's daughter, Nell, hopes by reconnecting with her mother's reclusive artist friend Stevie, she will understand her mother better. Stevie also has lost a part of herself that has been missing since she has lost touch with her old friends.

There's lots of secrets and angst but an altogether satisfying read.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Dead Will Tell/Linda Castillo/304 pgs.

In the most recent Castillo novel, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder becomes involved in solving a murder which, at first, appears to be a suicide. Upon further investigation, the murder of Dale Michaels seems to be tied to an unsolved murder which took place thirty-five years ago. Another person is murdered, and a pattern begins to emerge. Castillo takes the reader on a suspenseful ride, all the while giving further insight into her two main characters, Kate Burkholder and State Agent John Tomasetti, and their evolving relationship. I hope this series has a long run!

The Book of Life/Deborah Harkness/561 pgs.

This is the concluding volume in the All Souls Trilogy, and it was worth the wait! Time traveling/historian witch, Diana Bishop, and her vampire/scientist husband, Matthew Clairmont, return to the present. They are in search of the mysterious book, Ashmole 782, and its missing pages--a book which will, hopefully, provide answers to their questions. They encounter friends, enemies (past and present), humans, demons, witches, vampires, etc.  There is mystery, suspense, romance, and an all satisfying conclusion. I highly recommend this trilogy!

The Lost Hero / Rick Riordan / 557 pages

This is the first of the Heroes of Olympus Series by Rick Riordan.  My 10-year-old son loves all the Rick Riordan series and asked me to read this one.  This series happens sometime after the Percy Jackson series (maybe a year later).  I've found this book to be enjoyable for adults too.  Riordan has a very natural way of describing characters without breaking the flow of the book.  This book is especially interesting because the main character (Jason) begins the book with amnesia, so you learn about him as he learns about himself.  While Percy isn't actually in this book, the other characters refer to him quite a bit.  Jason meets Percy's girlfriend Annabeth before going on his quest with two new characters.  This book is great in that parents and children can both enjoy it and there isn't much in it for parents to object to.  If you want your kids to learn about Greek and Roman mythology, this is a good introduction for them.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Faith Bass Darling's Last Garage Sale/ Lynda Rutledge/ 289 pages

This is another title that I read for book club.  I chose it because I was under the impression that it would be a "light read".  While there are humorous characters and situations, there is also Alzheimer's and regret.  So, not really as light as I hoped.  However, I did like the characters and there was a lot to discuss.  Namely, what is the value of all the "things" in our life?  Does our "stuff" define us?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Much Ado About You / Eloisa James 391 p. Dec. Challenge Gold Rings

Three orphan sisters come to live with their guardian, the Duke of Holbrook. After preparing for young girls, is he surprised to find young ladies!  Tess Essex, the oldest, vows to marry well and quickly so that she can help her sisters find matches.  As all well made plans, things go awry when one of her sisters elopes with a horse-mad young lord.  (The sisters have a rather unusual dowry...a race horse each).  Then Tess's fiance (not a love match) ups and runs away.  That leaves Tess to consider marriage with the sort of man she wants to avoid... a rake.  Her sisters point out that this is a good match, he is rich, he's handsome, and he is here.  Love has a way of winning out.  But it is not a clear straight path.

31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan / 352 pages / July challenge historical fiction

The pacing of this book seemed really slow to me, though there is a huge revelation at the end of each of the first two chapters.  The plot is interesting and unpredictable.  The characters are mostly believable.  This is a classic "whodunit" and the answer at the end will surprise you.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself / David McRaney / 302 p.

The title gives a good idea of what is in this book. I found it to actually be a bit depressing.  I guess I want to keep deluding myself about how smart I am. Actually, some of the information about studies done about behavior are interesting. It is probably good to be aware of ways in which we fool ourselves. But it is a book of many very, very short chapters--just snippets really--so I don't know how truly meaningful any of them are.

Who Murdered Garson Talmadge, David Bishop, 278

Matt Kile, mystery writer, ex-detective, and ex prison inmate is pulled into a murder investigation when his neighbor's husband is murdered.  Is neighbor, Claire, guilty of murdering her husband Garson Talmadge?  Did she manipulate Matt so that he would be her alibi?  Or was it someone from Garson's weapons dealing past?  The story moves along quickly and includes a quick trip to France where Matt is questioned by the FBI and uncovers more of Talmadge's past.   There are several twists to the story that keep the reader wondering in this mystery

Monday, August 18, 2014

Blood Rites (The Dresden Files #6) / Jim Butcher / 439 p.

Continuing to make my way through listening to The Dresden Files.  As usual Harry strives to help the helpless fight the evil forces at great risk to himself.  This time he is also dragged in to helping a friendly enemy--the vampire Thomas.  He is at war with himself over the fact that he actually likes Thomas despite the fact that he is a succubus vamp--an idea that he naturally finds abhorrent. In the middle of all the mayhem that is Harry's normal life, Thomas has a startling revelation that will change Harry's life forever.

The Fault in Our Stars / John Green / 318 p.

I can certainly see why this book is such a hit with teens. John Green captures the teen voice very well and that makes this a better than average YA novel. When you add in the pathos of cancer, you have a very engaging novel. Hazel and Gus live constantly with the sword of death hanging over them and Hazel has had no expectation of romance before dying.  But Augustus Waters changes all of that.

Inferno / Dan Brown / 461 p.

The book held my interest, because of the over-population "theme." But Brown's books are very formulaic and he had to provide a couple of very big twists at the end to add surprise to the conclusion. Our hero, Robert Langdon, is once again pulled into a potential catastrophe because of his knowledge of art history and symbols. Brown ties it all in with Dante's Inferno. New cities/ cathedrals/ museums in Europe are visited.As usual, there is a madman and a female protagonist working alongside Robert throughout.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Don't Try to Find Me / Holly Brown / 352 pages

"A secret life isn't one secret.  It's a lie that takes precedence, encroaching like crabgrass over a lawn.  It keeps spreading and spreading."  "Everybody keeps secrets.  It's how relationships work."  The first quote is from Rachel, Marley's mom.  The second from Marley herself.  Marley had run away, leaving a short, cryptic note on the refrigerator whiteboard "Don't try to find me..."  Marley's cold, distant father mounts an intense media campaign to find his lost daughter.  Unfortunately, the blitz uncovers a relationship between Rachel and Marley's psychiatrist.  Told from dual points of view - Rachel's and Marley's, Don't Try to Find Me treats the reader to intense introspective detailing the dynamics of a dysfunctional family and the overriding power of love.  "Marley's gut said something was off about [Brandon], a college guy pursuing an eighth grader who's all the way across the country."  She should have gone with her gut instinct.  This is a gripping account of the ramifications for online contacts, a cautionary tale to parents and teens alike, a peon to journal as vehicle to clarification.

"People are jigsaw puzzles that don't exactly fit together."

Sworn to Silence / Linda Castillo / 321 pages

Kate Burkeholder is Chief of Police in the small Amish community of Painter's Mill, Ohio.  She herself was raised Amish but is no longer numbered among its faithful.  Kate is called upon to investigate the latest in a series of four local murders.  The murders fit the MO of a serial killer from sixteen years ago.  Kate figures this to be a copycat killer because she is certain the original murderer is dead.  Isn't she?  Although Kate received support and assistance from her staff, a local sheriff is a thorn in her side, and a has-been former cop with demons of his own has been sent to help.  The ending is well worth the wait...

Mila 2.0 / Debra Driza / 470 pages / Apri Challenge Rain

Mia Lana Daily (Mila) is "one slightly rebellious, hugely heart-broken" sixteen year old.  Her past memories are sketchy.  Her veterinarian mother has told her the traumatic fire that killed her father and destroyed their Philly home is responsible.  The two relocate to a horse ranch in Clearwater, Minnesota.  She is immediately befriended by Kaylee, but when the new boy, Hunter, transfers into their high school, jealousy, peer pressure, and snarkiness enter the picture.  When Mila is thrown from Kaylee's truck her unusual injuries compel her mother to tell the truth.  Mila is a top secret lab-created android - version 2.0.  Her mother stole her in a desperate attempt to save her life.  Her co-creator wants to destroy her as he views her as too human.  Will he succeed?  This awesome sci-fi is a compelling thriller, difficult to put down and almost impossible to forget.  First in a trilogy.

"Hair, weeds, life - all of them are transient."

Truman Award Preliminary Nominee 2015-16

Sylo / D. J. MacHale / 407 pages / 7 Swans a Swimming Challenge

This book was a total surprise!  From the title and cover, I jumped to the conclusion that it was a doomsday book about unleashed nuclear weapons.  Although this first book in the Sylo series may tend to evoke thoughts of doomsday, it does so in a creative, intriguing, inspired way.  James Dashner says it is "a relentlessly fast-paced, intriguing tale that leaves you breathless and satisfied, yet wanting more."  I agree!  This page-turner will keep you up at night and incommunicado during the day.  Tucker Pierce's parents moved to idyllic Pemberwick Island when his dad lost his job.  His dad runs a landscaping business on the island and Tuck helps him.  While enjoying one of their secret, stress-burning late night rides, he and his friend Quinn witness an incredible phenomenon.  Several mysterious deaths occur.  Is the phenomenon responsible?  The island is quarantined, supposedly due to a virus but Quinn and Ruck discover that this is a lie.  Tori Sleeper, who helps her father with his lobster business, helps Tuck in his efforts to escape the island.  We have a mysterious ruby substance that massively improves human performance and is taken by some members of the high school football squad with disastrous results.  (Unfortunately, we also have a couple of incidents of inappropriate language, nothing too serious, but I thought I should mention it.)

Truman Award Preliminary Nominee 2015-16

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die / April Henry / 213 pages / April Challenge Rain

Alexandra Sokoloff says The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die is a "psychological mystery wrapped in a thriller with a smart, resourceful heroine."  CJ Lyons says it is "a thrill-packed story with twists and turns you'll never see doming.  Hop on board for an adrenaline-fueled ride."  Both are excellent descriptions!  Cady returns to consciousness in a cabin in the woods, with a taste of blood in her mouth, a loose tooth, missing fingernails, and no memory.  She had obviously been tortured and is about to be killed as she cannot reveal the information her abductors seek.  This is a harrowing tale of greed, duplicity, homelessness, and incredible resourcefulness, courage, and determination.  I must admit I had a bit of a problem accepting Ty's convenient placement in the plot and his readiness to help.  (He was a McDonald's employee!?)  I liked it, but just couldn't quite believe it.

Truman Award Preliminary Nominee 2015-16

Pivot Point /. Kasie West / 343 pages / 7 Swans a Swimming Challenge

This is one of the most creative story/plot ideas I have encountered in a long time!  Addison Coleman is a searcher.  She, along with everyone in her hometown, has a paranormal ability.  Hers is that she can look into the future to determine consequences of choices.  When she is informed of the upcoming divorce of her parents, she searches six weeks into the future to help her decide with whom she should live.  Chapters alternate between living with her Dad, who has opted to leave the paranormal compound, and her Mom, who remains.  Chapter headings are insanely clever words/definitions relating to chapter contents.  This book seems to have it all...a serial murderer, high school football, quarterbacks, cheerleaders, best friends, cheating...

Truman Award Preliminary Nominee 2015-16

Inhuman / Kat Falls / 375 pages / 8 Maids a Milking & April Challenge - Rain

The Titan was erected eighteen years ago.  Called the Reparation Wall, the Quarantine Line, The Blight, it separates Davenport, from The Feral Zone.  The wall has guards stationed on top with guns and cameras facing East.  The wall had been constructed to contain the Ferae Virus that had been created by the Titan Corporation.  The plague quickly overtook the Eastern seaboard, caused other nations to cut off the US, and led to laws prohibiting congress to or from the infected East.  The line was drawn right at the Mississippi River.  Rumor has it that the plague has caused some victims to mutate into monsters.  Sixteen year old Delaney Lane McEvoy is snatched from a party by a biohazard unit.  It is impossible that she is infected!  Isn't it? Lane discovers that her father is a fetch.  He crosses the border to reclaim lost art from the Chicago Art Museum.  Lane is sent in search of her father.  Crossing into the East is punishable by death, but Director Spuring claims that she will destroy all evidence of his transgressions if he will fetch something for her.  Delaney has only five days in which to find him and deliver the message.  She encounters two seemingly opposite benefactors who facilitate her journey: Line Guard Everson and Hunter Rafe, who has ties to her father.  Lane learns that "safe and happy don't always go together."  I love the title - very appropriate, but I found the cover art to be deceptive.

Truman Award Preliminary Award 2015-16

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Power Play/Catherine Coulter/404 pgs.

Someone wants Natalie Black, the U.S. ambassador to the Court of St. James, dead. Her fiance, George McCallum (Viscount Lockenby), died in a car accident--many believe that it was a suicide as the result of Natalie breaking off the engagement. Natalie insists that the engagement wasn't broken off, and that someone is now trying to kill her. She returns to Washington, D.C., her job in jeopardy, and as it turns out, so is her life. FBI Special Agent Davis Sullivan enters the picture, and believes Natalie's story. He brings in his boss, Dillon Savich and his wife, Lacey Sherlock (also with the FBI). In addition to Natalie's "problem," someone is stalking Sherlock. It doesn't take long to figure out who wants Natalie dead, but it's a fun ride getting there!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Fifty Shades Freed, E. L. James, 578 pages

Pushing ahead to the third book,  Inner Goddess is almost nowhere to be found.  Christian and Ana are still angry and stubborn and they continue to test out new places and surfaces.  We finally hear a little more about Christian's childhood and how he became who he is, but it's not a very full explanation. Christian's achievements are pretty remarkable given what we know about Early Literacy Skills.  The book does end on a happy note.  While not a literary work, the series was not too far off the quality of some of the other free Kindle books I've read.

Fifty Shades Darker, E. L. James, 532 pages

So I decided to work my way through the trilogy.  This second book was the most tedious of the three.  While it does advance the story it gets a little repetitive as Christian and Ana test out every surface in his apartment.  He's jealous, she's stubborn, over and over throughout the story.  Unfortunately, Inner Goddess is not as vocal as she was in the first book.  

Fifty Shades of Grey, E. L. James, 372 pages

The movie trailer peaked my interest in this book.  About half way through I realized this was not the story I was expecting.    It was little more than a Harlequin Romance on steroids.  I did appreciate that unlike most romance novels the characters did talk to each other to solve problems.  Christian was not the dark, sinister person I thought I would encounter.   He actually seemed too good a person for the subject of the book.  Early on I thought is was all a con on his part to ensnare Ana and his obsession with her eating would ultimately lead to her starving each weekend in his 'red room'.   That was not the case. The characters interested me enough that I did work my way through all three books in the series.  My favorite character is Inner Goddess, she seemed to have the most sense and was a great comic relief.  A great literary work, no.  An adult Cinderella fantasy, maybe.  

Fortune Hunter/Daisy Goodwin/ 473 pp

This book borrows the names and basic facts of historical people and weaves a fictional story of their lives.  There is the Empress Elizabeth of Austria.  Incredibly beautiful and captivating.  She has escaped the confinement of royal life and an unsatisfying marriage to come to England to take part in the hunts.  Bay Middleton, an impoverished soldier and legendary horseman, is recruited to be her pilot in the hunts.  Charlotte Baird, a plain but clever heiress, who has captured the interest of Middleton.  But they have agreed to a secret engagement because Charlotte’s brother would not agree to the match.  Once she reaches the age of majority, they can become official without her brother’s approval.  Charlotte takes a picture of Bay and the Empress together and the camera reveals her deepest fear -- she has lost him to another woman.  Will Bay turn his back on his dreams in order to feed his obsession with the Empress?  Will Charlotte be able to forget what the camera has revealed -- that she is not the only woman in his heart?

This book is very well researched and historically accurate about the times if not about all the details of the lives of the major characters.  The author condenses what happens in seven years to one.  After I finished the book, I looked up Bay Middleton and many historians think he is the biological father of Winston Churchill’s wife, Clementine.  Her mother had an affair with Middleton before he met Charlotte and the family came to believe that Middleton, not her husband, was her father.

A great book for fans of historical fiction and Downton Abbey!

The History of Iraq (The Greenwood Histories of the Modern Nations) by Courtney Hunt 152 pages

Since the early 1990s, Iraq (and its former dictator, Saddam Hussein) has been a fixture in Western media. However, few American adults know or understand the rich cultural history or the political forces that have shaped modern Iraq. As the future of Iraq is now being written, a clear understanding of the country's history is crucial in our new global environment. Through ten narrative chapters, Hunt delves into the rich history of this land from the earliest settlements in Mesopotamia, the introduction of the Muslim faith, and the conquest of Baghdad by the Ottomans in 1534 to the institution and eventual overthrow of British control and the rise of the Ba'athist party to Saddam Hussein's reign as president. Ideal for students and general readers, the History of Iraq is part of Greenwood's Histories of Modern Nations series.

This is a very brief and simple fact based book. Do not try to make it anymore than that and you will be happy with it. 

Ulysses by James Joyce 783 pages

In the past, Ulysses has been labeled dirty, blasphemous, and even unreadable. None of these adjectives, however, do the slightest justice to the novel. To this day it remains the modernist masterpiece, in which the author takes both Celtic lyricism and vulgarity to splendid extremes. It is funny, sorrowful, and even (in a close-focus sort of way) suspenseful. And despite the exegetical industry that has sprung up in the last 75 years, Ulysses is also a compulsively readable book.

William Blake saw the universe in a grain of sand. Joyce saw it in Dublin, Ireland, on June 16, 1904, a day distinguished by its utter normality. Two characters, Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom, go about their separate business, crossing paths with a gallery of indelible Dubliners. We watch them teach, eat, stroll the streets, argue, and (in Bloom's case) masturbate. And thanks to the book's stream-of-consciousness technique--which suggests no mere stream but an impossibly deep, swift-running river--we're privy to their thoughts, emotions, and memories. The result? Almost every variety of human experience is crammed into the accordian folds of a single day, which makes Ulysses not just an experimental work but the very last word in realism.

Castle of Wizardry (The Belgariad #4) by David Eddings 375 pages


It had all begun with the theft of the Orb that had so long protected the West from the evil God Torak. Before that, Garion had been a simple farm boy. Afterward, he discovered that his aunt was really the Sorceress Polgara and his grandfather was Belgarath, the Eternal Man. Then, on the long quest to recover the Orb, Garion found to his dismay that he, too, was a sorcerer.

Now, at last, the Orb was regained and the quest was nearing its end. Of course, the questors still had to escape from this crumbling enemy fortress and flee across a desert filled with Murgo soldiers searching for them, while Grolim Hierarchs strove to destroy them with dark magic. Then, somehow, they must manage to be in Riva with the Orb by Erastide. After that, however, Garion was sure that his part in these great events would be finished.

But the Prophecy still held future surprises for Garion--and for the little princess Ce'Nedra.

This continues the magnificent epic of The Belgariad,  begun in Pawn of Prophecy, Queen of Sorcery, and Magician's Gambit--a fantasy set against a background of the war of men, Kings, and Gods that had spanned seven thousand years--a novel of fate, strange lands, and a prophecy that must be fulfilled!

Magician's Gambit (The Belgariad #3) by David Eddings 305 pages

Ce'Nedra, Imperial Princess of Tolnedra, had joined a dangerous mission to recover the stolen Orb that supposedly protected the West from the evil God Torak. And somehow, she found herself feeling quite tender for Garion, the innocent farm boy, who would be forced into the strange tower in the center of all evil to retrieve the Orb by himself.

Queen of Sorcery (The Belgariad #2) by David Eddings 326 pages

"BELGARIAD is exactly the kind of fantasy I like. It has magic, adventure, humor, mystery, and a certain delightful human insight."
The master Sorcerer Belgarath and his daughter Polgara the arch-Sorceress were on the trail of the Orb, seeking to regain its saving power before the final disaster prophesized by the legends. And with them went Garion, a simple farm boy only months before, but now the focus of the struggle. He had never believed in sorcery and wanted no part of it. Yet with every league they traveled, the power grew in him, forcing him to acts of wizardry he could not accept.

Pawn of Prophecy (The Belgariad #1) by David Eddings 304 pages

Long ago, the Storyteller claimed, in this first book of THE BELGARIAD, the evil god Torak drove men and Gods to war. But Belgarath the Sorcerer led men to reclaim the Orb that protected men of the West. So long as it lay at Riva, the prophecy went, men would be safe.

But Garion did not believe in such stories. Brought up on a quiet farm by his Aunt Pol, how could he know that the Apostate planned to wake dread Torak, or that he would be led on a quest of unparalleled magic and danger by those he loved--but did not know...?