Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Justice for Sara by Erica Spindler

Justice for Sara is a mystery/thriller in the style of Murder she wrote or Agatha Christie.  The story is about a teenage girl in a small town in Louisiana who has lost her parents and is being raised by her older sister.  Resentments build as she becomes a rebellious teenager who hates her sisters authority and hates her and wishes her dead. Then her sister is Murdered and she is accused of the crime and tried and then acquitted.  She is now 18 and leaves the state for 10yrs. Kat then decides to come back to her small home town to find out who murdered her sister.

This book is a mix between heartbreak, revenge, justice, and romance.  It tells the story of a Rebellious spoiled teenager who is lashing out at any and all authority. Who has to live with the last words that she said being "I hate you and wish you were dead!" to the sister who was raising her and then gets murdered. She is innocent of any crime other than being a complete brat at the age of 17. After she is acquitted she leaves her small town and state and moves to a place where nobody knows her.  She becomes a successful business women but decides that she needs to return home so she can Find Justice for Sara and also for herself by finding the real killer.

If you like Mystery books this is an amazing read. It has you wondering what is next and every time you think you have it figured out you learn that it can't be that person so who could it be next. Erica Spindler has you guessing until the very end and when you think it was solved and everything is done you learn that there is more to the story. Loved this book and definitely think it is worth your time to pick up and read.

Monday, July 29, 2013


This is a story told in the first person about the life of Angel Woolsack/Kemper.  It begins in 1861 when he is an adult and then flashes back to his child/young adulthood in 1799-1807.  It tells of the struggles in the deep south and west at the time when the Spanish still had the lower South both before and after the Louisiana Purchase. 

This Novel is an excellent read for a fictional/historical Novel. It comes with all the harsh language
of the times.  You go from Preachers who are the worst thieves and sinners to brothels where the Lady's of the night will do anything imaginable, to plantation owners with their slaves.  There is Murder, robbery, sex, drugs, slavery, and war.  This is all rolled together as the brothers are trying to become both rich and free from the Spanish. 

This book is a page turner and will have you laughing and crying at the antics of the family and the tragedy's that they suffer through. While you shake your head and say well that was a stupid choice to make and you knew it before you made it to the characters.  As I said before the Language is rough with Cussing and derogatory slang, but it is also fact based on how they treated and spoke about certain people of the times.

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

The Bone Season is set on an alternate Earth. It’s a cross between fantasy and dystopia. Clairvoyants – people in tune with the aether and sentient spirits who have not gone on – are not supposed to exist. If someone is found to be a voyant, they are captured and sent to prison.  And some of them are taken to a place called Sheol I, formerly known as Oxford. Sheol I is ruled by a race called the Rephaim. They are not human, and they take the human voyants as slaves. The implication is that this for the humans’ own good, but in essence it is human trafficking. 

If indeed The Bone Season is the first in a seven-book series, it’s an ambitious project. The author clearly has a terrific imagination and has done a good job of world-building. The book includes a helpful glossary, something I wish more fantasy novels would include. 

There are a lot of characters in The Bone Season, and I had a hard time keeping them straight, especially the alien Rephaim.  The author spins out her world at a good pace, filling in Paige’s background while describing her life in Sheol I.  

The author's publishers do her no favor by comparing her to J.K. Rowling (because the series is also planned as seven books). I can think of books the plot reminds me of - The Hunger Games, Divergent, Pure - but the Harry Potter series is not among them. The Harry Potter books are full of joy and humor; The Bone Season is pretty much joyless and humorless. 

That’s not to say it’s not well written. It is. But it’s not genius, just a pretty good debut fantasy.  I’ll read book 2, although I’m not feeling any anxiety to get my hands on it now.  If you enjoy epic fantasy, I definitely recommend taking a look at The Bone Season. It is getting a lot of buzz and the movie rights have been optioned.

I read an Advance Reader Copy of The Bone Season. It will be published in late August.



Thursday, July 25, 2013

Warbound by Larry Correia

  This novel is the third book of the Grimnoir Chronicles trilogy, and I'm going to have to say that I will definitely be looking for the first two books, as well as any other books by this author.  Larry Correia has a lyrical quality to his writing, which supports the setting in an alternate world United States.  Set primarily in the equivalent of the 1930's, the story follows a group of people attempting to save the world from an extra planar entity bent on devouring the energy of the magic using people of the world.  The "physics" of magic in this novel is intriguing and believable, establishing a strong underpinning to the framework of the action throughout the story.
  This is a story I would recommend to anyone slightly interested in fantasy novels.  The characters are likeable and draw the reader into the story, to the point that the climax of the story is engrossing enough to give the reader cause to lose sleep until after the book is finished.  Personally, I'm going to look for more of Mr. Correia's work, he seems to be an author I will avidly follow.

The Thousand Names by Django Wexler

   This entertaining read follows the military career of Winter Ihernglass, who is quickly shown to be a woman masquerading as a man in this fantasy novel.  This episode of her career occurs during a time of upheaval and civil war in the foreign land where she is posted.  Winter is quickly overcome by events, and comes to occupy a central position in the campaign led by the new Colonel, Janus bet Vhalnich Mieran.
  The way the author approaches the gender masquerade is very well done, and keeps its place as a plot line throughout the story, serving as an extended study of the different ways in which people deal with each other.  The characterizations and descriptive style are also well done, giving the story an entirely believable air, easily drawing the reader into the action.  I can heartily endorse this book as a good read, and can hope that the series to follow are as well done as this first installment.

Monday, July 22, 2013


This book is about a group of siblings (2 boys and 1 Girl) who are trying to live their lives with the past hanging on their shoulders.  Each one has struggled to break away from the past and lead productive lives as adults, and they believe they have accomplished this.  They find out that this isn't true when one of the family members gets into major political and legal trouble. They all try to pull together  to help the family member out only to find their own lives falling apart little by little. They then try to pull themselves back together as individuals and as a family.

This story is a Compelling and deep Story about life's true Journey.Elizabeth Strout tells about the good, the bad, and the ugly about somebody's everyday life. I found it amazing to read a story where the main characters are not perfect. These characters had to deal with the full range of emotions : Heartbreak, anger, bitterness, depression, regret, melancholy, happiness, love, hate, and ignorance.  You are never sure what the next page will bring.  Absolutely a fabulous read in my opinion.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Ashfall by Mike Mullin

Ashfall by Mike Mullin starts with a terrific premise. The dormant volcano under Yellowstone National Park, which last erupted 640,000 or so years ago, explodes, burying the western U.S. under ash and creating a world of darkness.

The main character is a teenager who lives in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Alex’s family wants him to come along on a visit to family in Illinois; an argument ensues and he convinces his parents to let him stay behind alone for the weekend. When the volcano erupts his house is crushed by flying debris and he is trapped.  He manages to free himself and make his way to his neighbors’ home. Eventually, he decides to strike out alone, travelling over the ash on his father’s old skis, to find his family in Illinois. He finds a traveling companion, a teenaged girl named Darla, and Ashfall tells the story of their journey together.
The science of the eruption seems plausible, but the timeline struck me as extremely condensed. I can believe rifle-toting farmers refusing to let other refugees on to their property, but some of the other conditions seem unlikely in the early days after a disaster.  The dissolving of American society into anarchy is not hard to imagine, but it all seems to happen too quickly. Still, this book is a quick read with a lot of action, and it will appeal to fans of The Hunger Games, Divergent, Delirium, and other dystopian series.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Tomatoland by Barry Estabrook

I love a good tomato. Nothing tastes like a warm ripe tomato right off the vine. Author Barry Estabrook agrees with me. In his book Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit, he examines the Florida tomato industry in detail. It’s clear that “taste” is no longer an important factor for most tomato growers. Instead the tomatoes need to be a uniform size and firm enough to stand up to rough handling during shipping. Oh, and if they show the least bit of pink when it is time to harvest them, they don’t get shipped. All tomatoes must be completely green; they are later gassed to turn them pink.

Estabrook dedication reads “For the men and women who pick the food we eat” and he sheds light on the state of migrant workers as well. As if the back-breaking conditions aren’t bad enough, tomato pickers are exposed to terrible pesticides that cause birth defects. They often aren’t given adequate instructions about working with pesticides, and many aren’t literate in English or Spanish and can’t read what little information they are given. According to Estabrook, Douglas Molloy, a U.S. attorney for Florida’s Middle District, “says that any American who has eaten a winter tomato, either purchased at a supermarket or on top of a fast food salad, has eaten a fruit picked by the hand of  a slave. ‘That’s not an assumption…. That is a fact.’” (p. 75)

Overall I found Tomatoland very interesting, although a bit repetitive at times. It’s a quick read at only 193 pages including the epilogue. Estabrook covers a lot of ground in those pages, and I recommend Tomatoland to anyone interested in workers’ rights, environmental issues, and American agriculture, as well as to anyone who loves a good tomato.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Straphanger by Taras Grescoe

A straphanger is a person who hangs on to the strap while riding a train or a bus or, more generally, a person who commutes to work by public transportation. Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile is a thought-provoking look at public transportation in a number of cities around the world. Author Taras Grescoe begins his Introduction with the Salvador Dali quote “Any man of forty who still rides the metro is a loser” but proudly boasts that although in his mid-forties he has never owned a car.

Grescoe is a passionate advocate for public transportation. He discusses the good and the bad, what works and what doesn’t, in a dozen cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Paris, Copenhagen, Moscow, Tokyo, and Bogota. Grescoe divides his book into chapters based on his travels to the various cities. He includes snippets of history covering how the U.S. came to be so dependent on automobiles.

He makes a fascinating visit to the old City Hall station in New York, a magnificent “ghost” station that opened in 1904 but is no longer used because the platform is too sharply curved. The location, a kind of time capsule to a more elegant time period, is a closely guarded New York City secret.

In his chapter on Los Angeles, a city notoriously difficult to travel by foot, Grescoe talks about the time author Ray Bradbury was stopped by a police officer for walking down the street. Bradbury was so horrified by the experience he turned it into a 1951 short story called “The Pedestrian.” In Bogota, Grescoe quotes the man behind their popular bus system: “We wanted to make people look down on the values of the criminals in our society….For us, the neighborhood hero was not the mafioso with the big motorcycle and the flashy clothes, but the young man who played sports and read books and rode around on an old bike.” (p. 218)

Grescoe holds up Phoenix as a bad example of how freeways and dependence on the automobile have helped turn the city into a ghost town. He points to Copenhagen, on the other hand, as his idea of a model city. Not only is the public transportation there clean, safe, and fast, Copenhagen is a city that encourages bike riding. I was amazed to read that in the winter, the bike paths are cleared of snow before the streets.

Reading Straphanger made me think about the public transportation options in Galesburg, and the Galesburg Public Library book discussion groups had two lively discussions on the subject. If you are interested in urban sprawl and the future of transportation, or if you enjoy visiting other cities vicariously, I recommend Straphanger. It can be found in the nonfiction section at 388.4 GRE.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Lawrence In Arabia by Scott Anderson

   This book is a 505 page account of the activities of four men during the time period of World War I in the Middle East.  T. E. Lawrence of England, Curt Prufer of Germany, Aaron Aaronsohn of the Ottoman Empire, and William Yale of the United States.  All of these men played a part in the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire, that led to the eventual founding of the modern countries of the Middle East.
   As can be expected, this could be a slow read, but highly rewarding for anyone who is interested in the history of the Middle East, and the basis for some of the rivalries and political issues that still disrupt the lives of the people in this volatile area.  Also detailed in this account are some of the political decisions that led to the modern political issues.
   I can recommend this book without any reservation, the author relies on primary sources, and is also non-judgemental in describing the actions of the people involved in this account.  Taken altogether, this book is an open account of a very tumultuous time period, and is informative as well as entertaining.  If you have the time and interest, this is a wonderful book.