Tana French is a master of tension and mystery. Her latest novel, Broken Harbor, tells the story of Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy, one of Dublin’s top murder detectives, as he attempts to solve the murder of a young family in a largely abandoned new housing development. Only the mother has survived, and she is in the hospital in critical condition. Although Brianstown, the location of the murders, is the site of a major trauma from Kennedy’s youth, he feels like the case will be a simple solve that will make him untouchable on the murder squad.
The Mind is very similar in structure to one of my earlier staff picks: Future Science. Editor John Brockman presents contributions from some of the world’s leading scientists on the workings of the brain and aspects of human consciousness, development, memory, and learning.
The "Rules of Civility" is a delightful tale that parachutes the reader straight out of the Manhattan skyline into the lives of three friends poised to resurrect leftover dreams placed on hold during the era of the Great Depression. Author Amor Towles begins the story starring two best friends and one wealthy, eligible bachelor by igniting the promise of a hopeful future on the eve of New's Years 1938.
Libba Bray's The Diviners mixes mystery and supernatural horror and sets in Prohibition Era New York. The effect is excellent--if I were a wine connoisseur and this book were a wine, I'd note hints of HBO's Carnivale, Stephen King's novels, and a liberal peppering of 1920s slang. I'll hold back from getting cutesy using the slang in this review.
Okay, I'll admit it, I've never actually read J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan, so I began reading this only knowing the Disney movie version of the story. This is Tiger Lily's story as told from Tinker Bell's point-of-view and it works marvelously! Folks expecting a nice, neat Disney tale are in for a rude awakening.
Sadie Turner is still reeling from a nasty divorce. She needs time away from her controlling mother and cheating ex-husband, so on a whim, she decides to pack up her kids and spend the summer at her eccentric Aunt Dody’s beach cottage on Lake Michigan. Sadie had spent many wonderful summers there as a child and figures it may be just the place to get some peace and quiet. Little does she know that her two cousins are also living at Dody’s cottage, one of which is flamboyant Fontaine, who can’t wait to get his hands on Sadie’s boring and mundane social life.
Captain Ivan Xav Vorpatril is a dedicated and loyal officer of the Barrayaran military. He is tall and handsome and rarely lacks female company. While his relatives may address him as “That idiot Ivan” at times, he is not stupid. He avoids controversy whenever possible and keeps a low, almost slacker, profile while efficiently analyzing top secret information. Though he appears in the previous books mostly as a sidekick to his cousin Miles (whose manic life has plenty of forward momentum, with explosions and chases--despite being crippled in utero by an poison gas at
I really loved this book! One of the blurbs on the back references Charles Portis, and the voice of this story's narrator, Eli Sisters, reminded me very much of the narrator of True Grit. I feel like I got to know Eli better, and liked this story better than True Grit, not that they need to be compared as they are both enjoyable stories. But, if I'm left with only the two books to read and have to choose one to read first, this would be the one.
The short version: A science fiction and fantasy adventure featuring excellent characters, intrigue, and deceptions that will grip your attention such that you'll neglect the things you need to do in order to read more.
Another just plain fun read! If you like the Stephanie Plumb books, you'll like this series too. Diesel, one of Ranger's employees, breaks out on his own set of adventures. They are full of the same madcap mayhem we see with Stephanie, Morelli and Ranger, but these add a layer of magic and mystical powers. Lizzy is a pastry chef in Salem Massachusetts who also happens to be a "finder". Her talent is sensing special properties of inanimate objects. Lizzy and Diesel are off on a mission to find another one of a set of magical stones before Wulf or any other bad guys can get it.
From the 1920s to the 1960s, Edna Ferber was one of America’s most popular writers, turning out a string of best-selling novels, such as So Big (Pulitzer Prize winner), Show Boat, Come and Get It, and Giant, many of which became equally successful plays and films. Ferber herself also wrote successful plays (Stage Door, The Royal Family) with theatrical legend George S. Kauffmann, and was peripheral member of the famed Algonquin Round Table of notable wits.
Russian Winter is a novel about jewels, ballet, love, betrayal, and secrets. It centers on Russian ballerina Nina Revskaya, The Butterfly, a star of the Bolshoi Ballet in communist Russia. The tale weaves back and forth from her life in Russia to present day America, where she is auctioning all of her jewels.
The short version: The story of a break up from the very beginning of the relationship, starring authentic characters and presented in a unique format--each chapter starts with an object from a box of mementos Min collected and is giving to her ex-boyfriend, Ed. For more details, read on.
This is definitely one of my favorites; it is not, however, a self-help book (if you peruse Amazon reviews, many readers’ expectations were defied and disappointed by that fact – most likely due to a misinterpretation of the sub-title). Rather, Redirect presents the practice of story-editing to effect successful interventions in personal and social issues.
A hilarious take on a 7th grade boy's life from the pen of Tim Carvell, head writer at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. The book is in diary format and follows Tad on various adventures & life lessons throughout the year.
Welcome to Icicle Falls, home of the Sweet Dreams Chocolate Company, which has been run by the Sterling Family for generations. Samantha Sterling has just been given a heavy burden. Her recently deceased step-father, Waldo, has left the company near ruin and it is up to her as the eldest daughter and newly appointed CEO, to save the family business. To make things worse, there’s a new bank manager in town, the handsome Blake Preston who has given Samantha less than two months to repay the company’s debt. Can Samantha and her family save the chocolate factory in time?
Dodger is a tosher, a cheeky, enterprising young man who knows the sewers of London like the back of his hand. He searches in tunnels below ground to find lost treasures like coins or rings, always hoping to find the mystical Tosharoon—a conglomeration of treasures wrapped up in mud, and worse.
Maria Semple relates the tale of where Bernadette went and why using emails, letters, reports, articles, and other short pieces created by or relating to the characters. Interspersed are passages of Bernadette's daughter Bee's narration. With all the variation in modes of writing, I was surprised at how smoothly this story read.
I first read this book when it was hot off the press in 1977. I finished it one morning right before going in to work at an Owensboro, KY department store. It was hard to get my mind on work after experiencing the traumatic events at the Overlook Hotel.
Bergstein explains why women, in particular, absolutely love shoes. Even more than our clothing, shoes offers us a means to communicate who we are as individuals. But Bergstein goes beyond the stories of various cobblers who became famous for their footwear. She also describes the behind the scenes machinations that brought about the famous Ruby Slippers in The Wizard of Oz. They were actually silver in L. Frank Baum’s book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz but red would be more of a contrast against the yellow brick road filmed in Technicolor.
The Age of Miracles is the story of Julia as she comes of age in suburban California, featuring bullies, young love, cliques, loneliness, parental troubles, bra shopping, soccer practice, grandpa, and reading in the library during lunch at school.
The short version: You like doing things outdoors--hiking, hunting, cross country skiing, etc.--and read up on those hobbies. You've had a close relationship with a pet. You don't mind reading about the end of the world as we know it. If that's you, you'll like this story.
The short version: This collection of the compelling first 12 issues of the mystery-horror comic book series set in a twisted boarding school is a satisfying hook that will make fans of readers who enjoy grim graphic stories with a dash of the fantastic, like The Walking Dead or The Unwritten. Enticed? Read on.
Nick Spencer's Morning Glories is one of those comics that keeps you in the dark about what's going on. I'd say it keeps you guessing, but it would be a rare success for any reader to guess the what's happening in an issue/chapter. And this is fun--an excellent hook.
The first sentence sets the perfect tone for this wonderful debut novel from Alice LaPlante. "Something has happened." With so much attention on Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, this book provides a thoughtful but thoroughly terrifying portrait of a victim. Dr. Jennifer White is a renowned orthopedic surgeon.
The main character of this novel is one of the most despised people in America: he’s a lobbyist for the smoking industry. He’s not friendless, however. His frequent lunch companions include the chief representatives for the gun industry and the alcohol lobby. They privately refer to themselves as “The MOD Squad” (as in Merchants of Death). In this hilarious novel, Buckley not only skewers the tobacco industry, but Washington, Hollywood, the press, and modern society in general. The book is also the source of an excellent movie of the same name.
Wow. That's what I kept thinking as I read Cheryl Strayed's Tiny Beautiful Things. Just wow.This is the kind of book that is about so much more than simple advice for an individual. As Sugar, Strayed takes her readers' questions and uses them to examine larger questions about love and life that are in many ways universal . She does so in a gut-wrenchingly truthful way. I will be honest, this book is not always a comfortable read. There are stories in it that are painful and horrific. Yet even in these stories there is beauty and hope.
One night I was preparing dinner from a recipe and, tasting it, realized it needed something. I added an ingredient to a small portion of it – an ingredient I didn’t particularly like – and found it was the perfect flavor foil. This was a particularly favorable feat because I did not even consult my copy of The Flavor Bible but, instead, mentally retrieved its explanation of balancing flavors and considered how I could emphasize or ‘push’ the existing taste to a brighter level.
The quick version: The most fun fantasy story--perhaps the most fun novel--that I've read all year, and despite it's "young adult" label, it doesn't feel like a YA novel. Keep reading for the detailed review.
Why is this series not simultaneously published in the US?
In this book, or rather manual, Mr. Rees adds to the current artisanal fad by presenting (in great detail) the craft of manually sharpening a pencil. He covers ten different types of pencil sharpeners, complete with pictures, sketches and clip art to illuminate the written word.
A co-worker gave this to me to read because she thought it was my kind of book. I had never heard of it, but boy am I glad she thought of me, this book is amazing! Julia, an 11 year old girl in California, is the narrator of the story and the tale she has to tell is riveting. The days on earth are inexplicably getting longer, what they refer to in the book as "the slowing". There is no explanation for why this is happening, but it is soon apparent that this is not an illusion and it also is not temporary. Each day is longer, as are the nights.
Bad Glass has a great premise, especially if you are a fan of “what if” science fiction. The science here is physics, or perhaps metaphysics. We never find out. But weird things are happening in Spokane, WA. The military has separated the phenomena into 4 categories: things that appear that should not be there, things that disappear that should be there, voices/noises that have no apparent origin and “all else”. Most fall into the “all else” category; especially the human body parts that meld into inanimate materials, or that become part of other bodies.
Tomorrow is a River is the story of Caroline, who, with her preacher husband Adam, settled a homestead near the Tomorrow River in Northeastern WI in the late 1800s. After being abandoned by her husband, Caroline and her 2 young children struggle to survive the rugged wilderness of pioneer Wisconsin with the help of a Menominee Indian woman who befriends them. Together they weather many storms, the most terrifying of all, the Peshtigo Fire of 1871.
Review in brief: A comic book enthusiast and artist documents her senior year in college a page a day. Strongest recommendation to students interested in becoming artists themselves, but recommended generally to those between the ages of 14 and 35. The full review starts now.
I don't think there's any way for me to describe Natalie Nourigat's Between Gears in a way that conveys how much I enjoyed it.
In 1923 two sisters set off on a mission to Kashgar, located on the Silk Road, though they speak little or none of the languages in the region. Lizzie is on fire with religious conviction instilled by Millicent, who is in charge of the mission. Evangeline is not convinced of the value of their work, but is coming along to protect her sister as well as to travel and experience the world, riding her green bicycle for hundreds of miles as they travel through deathly heat in the desert, and extreme cold in the passes of the Celestial Mountains.
Meredith Baxter was no stranger to show business. Her mother, Whitney Blake, was an American television/film actress who appeared in Hazel, Perry Mason, and multiple westerns over the years. Meredith’s Pasadena, California family life was highly dysfunctional. Her mother was distant and often was secluded behind a closed bedroom door which Meredith was forbidden to enter. After divorcing Meredith’s father, Blake married Jack, a militaristic man who meted out severe punishment to Meredith and her older two brothers. He also made unwelcome sexual advances toward Meredith.
Ready Player One takes place in a stark, near future where people hide from their dark reality in the OASIS, a virtual world created by James Halliday. As the story takes off lifelong gamer and game creator Halliday has just died and left behind one last game for the ages.
Budo is six years old, but he looks like an adult. To the people who can see him, that is--he is an imaginary friend, visible only to his human imaginer Max and to other imaginary friends. Imaginary friends are born from people's, pimarily chilrden's, minds and come out looking like pretty much anything--a fully formed person like Budo, a spot on a wall, a robot, whatever. One day, they're imagined and exist, knowing what their humans think they know.
Loved this book! A BBC British comedy in print. The main character is drawn to perfection; Constance Harding is a totally clueless but well meaning, well-bred, English lady. Her home is "a comfortable five-bedroom Georgian house located on the outskirts of a pleasant village in Surrey." She defines herself as wife to Jeffrey, mother to Rupert (a 25 year old IT consultant) and Sophie (a slightly directionless adolescent); she dotes on her Eclectus parrot Darcy. This book is a year in her life, told through her blog entries.
When informed that George Gershwin had died, the novelist John O’Hara wrote, “I don’t have to believe it if I don’t want to.” Gershwin was only 38 at the time of his death, and had been widely seen as the future of American music.
The Kommandant's Girl is the story of what an ordinary person will do in impossible circumstances. Nineteen-year-old Emma has been married three weeks then the Nazis invade Poland. Her young husband leaves her alone to go underground with the resistance, and when she returns to her parents' home in the Jewish ghetto she is imprisoned there with the rest of the city's Jews. Late one night she is smuggled out and taken to her husband's Catholic cousin. In order to remain safe, she must assume a gentile identity, the single girl Anna.
This summer the latest and most-likely last (hopefully not!) installment of the Artemis Fowl series, by Eoin Colfer (pronounced Owen), was released. The 8 books follow Artemis’ adventures with the Fairy world: dwarves, trolls, goblins, centaurs, pixies, and more; they all live under the earth’s surface but pop up every now and then. Artemis is a young, criminal mastermind, determined to steal Fairy gold to fund the search for his missing father and to refill the family fortune’s rapidly emptying coffers.
If you listen to NPR on Friday mornings, you may be familiar with the interviews from David Isay’s StoryCorps Project. Shortly after 9/11, David Isay decided he wanted to record an oral history of America. Not just any history, mind you, he set out to capture the lives of everyday Americans --- your average John & Jane Doe, not the elite upper-crust celebrities that traditionally dominate the media. He set up a recording booth in Grand Central Station in New York City where family members and friends can record interviews with each other. It became so popular tha
I liked Meg Rosoff's There is No Dog. It's a funny, somewhat scattered, odd little story that I wasn't expecting. I think when you read the blurb on a book that tells you God is a stereotypical teen boy, you get some expectations--like seeing a preview for a Will Farrel movie. I expected much more zaniness than this story brought, and I appreciate that the humor was more understated.
Susannah Delaney‘s life is unraveling. Her son Quinn, a quiet, cerebral child is being severely bullied at school and her high-spirited, 14 year-old daughter Katie is spiraling out of control. Susannah makes the drastic decision to move her family thousands of miles away from home to an isolated island off the coast of Washington, where there is no electricity, only a one-room school and any resemblance of a store is an hour boat ride to the mainland. Life on the island is anything but easy and Susannah must also deal with Katie’s hostile attitude towards her.
You might ask…what is Rock and Roll’s Best-Kept Secret? Read this book and find out! Here’s a clue…most of the finished product from studio recordings was performed by behind the scenes session musicians. Some of those musicians ultimately became famous in their own right. Think Glen Campbell, Leon Russell, and Neil Diamond, to name a few. Hartman leads us through the stories behind Phil Spector’s wall of sound, and Sonny and Cher’s rise to fame with their signature song, I Got You, Babe.
I frequently read in subject ‘clumps.’ Upon reading an interesting fact or blurb, I typically search for more books and articles in that area until my interest has run its course. In this case, what sparked my inquiry into restrictive eating disorders was, for me, a very unusual source.
Author Erik Larson details the events surrounding the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, focusing on the stories of two men: Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the fair's construction, and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor. I have read a lot of reviews where people had a strong preference for one story or the other, but found both equally intriguing.