Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

A Snicker of Magic is slow starting, but I enjoyed it once it got underway. Sixth-grader Felicity Pickle is cursed with a mother who can't stay in one place. Literally cursed, if the stories of Midnight Gulch, Tennessee are true. Two magical brothers dueled and everyone lost when the woman they both loved cursed them. Their descendants are still affected by the curse.

Felicity's gift is to see words. She seems them over people's heads, in rooms, along roads, in the stars. Her mother decides to return home - not to stay, just to visit. But Felicity feels like she has come home. She meets her first best friend, Jonah, a boy in a wheelchair with a delightful secret.

Midnight Gulch is known for Dr. Zook's Famous Ice Cream Factory. It stays frozen without ice, and the Blackberry Sunrise flavor is the most popular because it brings back memories.

But there is hope, found in the verses of the curse: "Cursed to wander through the night,/Till cords align, and all's made right./Where sweet amends are made and spoken,/Shadows dance, the curse is broken." Felicity, Jonah and a host of other 'do-gooders" set out solve the curse and make things right. Felicity is sure she can break the curse and keep her mother from wandering.

This is not a very magical book. Midnight Gulch has remaining only a snicker of magic. At times, I wondered if there really is any magic at all, and that's part of the book's charm. There are interesting characters of many different ages. This is a great book for new vocabulary, and for helping the reader see that everyone has secrets and fears. I definitely recommend it for the right reader.

A Snicker of Magic can be found in the Children's Room under the author's name, LLOYD, Natalie.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Blackhouse by Peter May

Posted for reader Kaye. Kaye died on October 26, but we wanted to publish her final book review.

This story takes place on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland. A young detective, Fin, who grew up on the Isle, is sent back to investigate a murder that is similar to one he is investigating in his home in Edinburgh. His superiors fear it may be the work of a serial killer.

Life on the Isle was hard, the people had their customs, and it was very interesting to read about. The story told of a yearly trip the men from the Isle made to a smaller island to hunt and kill the “Guga,”  a native bird they spend two weeks out of the year hunting. What happens on the island, stays on the island, never to be discussed.

When he was 18, Fin fell on his first trip to hunt the Guga and was saved by his friend Artair's father. The older man tied a rope around Fin and pulled him up the cliff before plunging to his death. 

As the story unravels, Fin discovers that as a result of the accident he has a memory blackout of things that happened to him and his friend Artair. Fin has a dark secret that he has blocked out of his mind. Artair has hated Fin since the death of his father, and it has become deeply complicated.

The story kept me reading just to solve the mystery of the murders. It had a surprise ending. The Blackhouse is the first book in a series and can be found at the Galesburg Public Library in the adult fiction area under the author's last name, May.

Submitted by Georgette Kaye Carroll

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Regency Charade by Margaret Mayhew

Regency Charade is a short (182 page) "Romance of the Regent's England" published in 1986. Definitely not as good as the best of Georgette Heyer, but entertaining enough. Miss Katherine Spencer lives in Kielder, the crumbling family castle, with her younger brother - only 9 years old but the next baronet. The previous baronet, their other brother, a gambler and a wastrel, died recently in a careless accident while racing.

Katherine discovers to her horror that he gambled away Kielder before he died. "Mr. Drew" arrives determined to take possession, despite the many tricks Katherine tries to drive him away (stopping up the chimney, breaking windows, etc.). Mr. Drew has a secret or two, which Katherine eventually discovers, and it all comes out right in the end.

The best scene was the one in which a bedraggled Katherine presented herself to the house she had reason to believe was Mr. Drew's and ended up having an interesting conversation with an earl.

If you are a fan of Jane Austen and Regency romances and are looking for new authors, you might check out Margaret Mayhew. The Galesburg Public Library has two Regency romances by her; the other is called Quadrille. They can be found in the adult fiction section under the author's last name, Mayhew.

The Bishop’s Wife by Mette Ivie Harrison

Posted for reader Kaye - 

The main character in The Bishop's Wife is the wife of a Bishop in the Church of Latter Day Saints and a mother of five. As the Bishop’s wife, she is very involved in the charities and the social aspects of the church and the people in the ward. After the disappearance of a young wife and mother, she becomes close to the young woman’s child. She discovers the young woman’s cell phone, clothes and purse in the basement and believes something has happened to her. The young woman is found murdered, and she helps to solve the murder. In doing so, she uncovers incest in the church and helps to bring the guilty parties to justice.

During an elderly man’s lingering illness, she befriends his second wife. She uncovers a 30 year old mystery concerning his first wife’s death and her lack of a grave. She eventually helps to solve her death and disappearance also.

I could hardly put this book down, as I had to see what Linda, the Bishop’s wife, would do next! I loved the book and read it in a day. The Bishop's Wife will be published on December 30, 2014.

 - Georgette Kaye Carroll

Monday, November 17, 2014

Nora Webster by Colm Toibin

Posted for reader Kaye - 

This is the story of a mother of four who is widowed at a young age. It is set in Wexford, Ireland, a small community where everyone knows your business. Everyone has grown up together and knows everything that has ever happened in your life.

Nora finds work again at a company she had worked at 20 years before she married and had children. Nora has a hard time shaking off grief at the loss of her husband and doesn’t see how her young sons are struggling also at the loss of their father and now the loss of their stay-at-home mother. The boys are left a lot to themselves and struggle with school, their relationship with each other, and their mother.

Through her love of music, Nora starts to sing again, takes voice lessons, and is asked to sing at a big concert. After three years, she finally allows her aunt to clear out her husband’s belongings. She is finally able to move forward and finds herself and her children again.

This book is far different than any book I have read before, but I really enjoyed it. I had to keep reading to see if Nora would shake off her grief and work through her problems. A great book!

- Submitted by Georgette Kaye Carroll

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Like Water on Stone by Dana Walrath

Genres: Historical, War, Young Adult
Release Date: November 11th, 2014
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Source: ARC from Publisher

Add on Goodreads

It is 1914, and the Ottoman Empire is crumbling into violence.
Beyond Anatolia, in the Armenian Highlands, Shahen Donabedian dreams of going to New York. Sosi, his twin sister, never wants to leave her home, especially now that she is in love. At first, only Papa, who counts Turks and Kurds among his closest friends, stands in Shahen's way. But when the Ottoman pashas set their plans to eliminate all Armenians in motion, neither twin has a choice.
After a horrifying attack leaves them orphaned, Shahen and Sosi flee into the mountains, carrying their little sister, Mariam. Shahen keeps their parents' fate a secret from his sisters. But the children are not alone. An eagle named Ardziv watches over them as they run at night and hide each day, making their way across mountain ridges and rivers red with blood.
Note: This book is written in verse.

This beautiful book
isn’t as fun to read.
It treats your heart like a stone
and tosses it into a lake
where it skips and skips and skips.

It’s not easy to read
you might have figured that one out
but it’s worth every moment of pain it will put you through

You see
it’s not a regular YA novel.
it is one that tells a story of immense loss
yet it also tells a story of familial love.

The author doesn’t cut back on the
gory details
believe me
I’d know.

But at the same time, she is honest
which is why this book is so heartbreaking

With its fierce characters
who continue to march on
You cannot help but fall in love
with not just with their innocent determination

You cheer for them
because they need to be cheered
Most of all though,
you hope,
you hope everything will be all right.

If you are a lover of truth and
a lover of heartbreakingly real stories
I’d say give this one a shot
and let your heart skip skip skip
over a lake of your own tears

Monday, November 10, 2014

One of Us by Tawni O'Dell

Posted for reader Kaye - 

This story is set in a Pennsylvania mining town in modern time. Very quickly I felt a part of this town and its people, a town steeped in history. I could picture the lives of the Irish miners and the poverty they lived in.

In the past, the owner of the mine and his family became wealthier, while the miners and their families struggled to keep food on the table. They were lucky to have a few pennies left from their pay after paying their bill at the company store - the company store where they had to purchase everything if they wanted to continue working in the mine, or anywhere, or be blackballed by the owner from working anywhere else. The prices were high and the goods inferior.

In the history of the town and of the mine, ten men were hung from the gallows for the murder of two policemen. These men were trying to start a union to get better working conditions and pay for the miners and their families. Eight men were innocent, but ten were hung as a warning to the rest of the miners: a warning that the wealthy owner was in control and could do as he wanted. The mine is still producing now, using a process called fracking, and employing about 40 men. So the mine still controls some of the descendants of the original miners.

A story unfolds after a man returns to his hometown to visit his sick grandfather and his mentally impaired mother. A death in the town unveils a secret from the past. Then three more deaths from the past come to light after several more murders. I read this book in a day, as I had to see how it would end. This is the first book I have read by this author, but plan to read more from her!

-Submitted by Georgette Kaye Carroll