Wednesday, October 30, 2013

North of Boston by Elisabeth Elo

Dark....dark....dark  with a dim light at the end of the book.This was a fictional thriller. The basic setting was the Northeast of the U.S. . The main character was an oppositional young lady. This involved dysfunctional, wealthy families, environmental issues,and disturbed greedy people.
This book for me, was one of those reads that you needed a break from. When you were pretty sure it couldn't get did.
Despite all of this I still wanted to finish it.
If you like to be challenged this is one of those kind of books. It leaves you wondering.

Book of Ages by Jill Lepore

This is a book written around letters from Ben Franklin to his sister Jane Franklin.
I found it interesting to think about how he has brothers and sisters yet we really never think about that aspect of Ben's life.
However, this book was close to 300 pages. I think it could have been more fascinating if condensed to 150 pages. I had a difficult time getting through this and I enjoy historical non-fiction.
The enjoyment was much less then the effort to read this book.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

I am normally reading several books at one time. At home, I usually have one book by my bedside to read before bed and one at the dining room table to read while eating. Originally The Ocean at the End of the Lane was my bedtime reading, but I found it so disturbing that I had to move it downstairs. This is about the highest praise I can give to a creepy book like The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Also, I got teary-eyed reading the acknowledgements. Neil Gaiman rocks.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches is the sixth book in the Flavia de Luce mystery series by Alan Bradley.

I am very fond of Flavia de Luce and look forward to each new adventure with her. The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches was refreshing because it did not deal with Flavia finding a dead body – which, let’s face it, I’d be pretty suspicious if an 11-year-old kept ending up involved in solving a murder. Instead it deals with her mother’s return to Bishop’s Lacey. I enjoyed learning more about Flavia’s father and Dogger and seeing some growth in Flavia’s relationship with her sisters.

Bradley’s prose is a delight to read, even if some of the plot developments were a bit hard to swallow. There is a storyline involving Flavia’s intentions to raise the dead which is completely unbelievable. She is much too smart to believe that can be done, and if it’s her way of coping with loss, that’s not made apparent. There are some developments regarding Flavia’s role and importance in the world which are also pretty outlandish.

Still, it’s a fun read and my interest didn’t lag. The book ends with a development that will certainly bring a fresh spin to the next book in the series. Although I've enjoyed all the books, on the whole I think this one was more original than the last two.

I read an electronic galley of The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches from Netgalley. It is scheduled to be available in January 2014.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century

In 1954, two teenaged girls killed one of their mothers by beating her head in at Victoria Park near Christchurch, New Zealand. This horrific and inexplicable murder was made famous by the 1994 movie Heavenly Creatures, which established director Peter Jackson and launched the career of actress Kate Winslet. 

Juliet Hulme was originally from England and Pauline Parker was from New Zealand. They met as young teenagers and became the closest of friends, living in a fantasy world of their own. Each had health issues, and they bonded while sitting on the sidelines of physical education classes at school. They called each other by made-up names and dreamed of running away to Los Angeles. When Hulme’s parents split up and made plans to return to England, the girls were determined not to be parted. Somehow they convinced themselves that killing Pauline’s mother was the answer. They lured her to the park and used a brick in a stocking to bludgeon her to death.
Years later, after the girls were found guilty and sent to prison for short terms, it came to light that Anne Perry, author of two bestselling mystery series set in Victorian England, was in fact Juliet Hulme. As a longtime fan of Perry, this fascinated me, so when Peter Graham’s book Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century was published, I knew I had to read it. 
Author Graham lives in New Zealand and was a barrister before becoming a crime writer. Since so much time has passed since the crime and many of the key people have died, Graham has to fill in some of the details with guesswork and speculation. It’s important to keep that mind when reading the book. 
 Like most works of “true crime,” this book is told in a sensational manner. Early on, Graham refers to Pauline’s “mongoloid” sister and I thought, can he really not know that’s not the correct term? Indeed he does know, as he talks about Down’s Syndrome in a later chapter; the earlier reference was no doubt meant to be provocative and to help set the scene as things were in 1954.
 I was riveted to this book, as indeed I was to the excellent Heavenly Creatures.  There is still no good explanation for why the two girls picked out Pauline’s mother to attack. They had four parents after all, plus the lover of Juliet’s mother. Although both girls kept diaries, Mrs. Hulme managed to destroy Juliet’s before she was arrested. Pauline’s, however, was used to provide evidence at the trial, and passages in it are quite chilling. It’s also a fascinating look into a teenaged mind.
Graham speculates over why the girls committed the crime, but no one knows for sure. Anne Perry and Pauline Parker (now known as Hilary Nathan) aren’t talking, if they even know themselves.  For me, the lack of proof of a good solid motive does not detract from the story. In addition, I visited New Zealand a few years ago and the references to places I visited were of special interest to me.
If you are a fan of true crime, of Anne Perry, or of the human mind and what it is capable of, I recommend Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Submitted by Sharon, teen reviewer:

Beth Risk is the girl no one takes seriously, especially given her past. With her home life quickly falling apart, her uncle Scott Risk, a major league baseball player, moves her in with his family in Groveton. Surprised that she is making a life in Groveton that she likes, Beth tries to make herself believe that she doesn't deserve or want it. Through all the struggles, she falls for Ryan Stone, the one she told herself she'd never get involved with more than she has to.

Ryan Stone's family is one of the families that have a big influence in the town. Ryan and his friends are part of their high school's baseball team... and they love dares. When one dare makes Ryan's life change, he finds himself trying for things he never thought he wanted, including Beth Risk.

Dare You To by Katie McGarry is a very good book that has some very real-life teen problems in it. Surprisingly, my favorite characters are supporting, Scott and Lacy.  I like how even when he ran from his life before, Scott still looked for Beth and kept his promise to her. Lacy doesn't care about what people say about Beth and she doesn't mind about Beth not talking about her past; she still makes it a point to try to rekindle the friendship they used to have.

Dare You To is available now.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Violets of March by Sarah Jio

This week the library’s Tuesday and Thursday book discussion groups will discuss The Violets of March by Sarah Jio. The main character, Emily, had a best-selling novel eight years ago but is now struggling to write. Her husband Joel, who literally appeared in GQ once as a most eligible “regular guy bachelor,” has left her for another woman. She lives in New York but regularly spent time as a child at the home of her Aunt Bee on Bainbridge Island off the coast of Washington State.

Emily heads to Bainbridge once again to recover from her divorce, find solace, and be healed, planning to stay there the entire month of March (this is important because of the book’s title). She hasn’t cried over her divorce, and her best friend hopes she will by the time the visit ends.

We meet a lot of characters on Bainbridge, mostly of her aunt’s generation and in their eighties. We do meet two potential love interests for Emily, Greg, an old boyfriend, and Jack, who her aunt dislikes and who seems to have a mysterious connection to Emily’s own family.

From the beginning of her visit, Emily starts to feel there is a “big secret” no one wants to share with her. She stays in a bedroom she has never slept in before, and in the drawer of the bedside table she finds an old diary with a red velvet cover. She can’t resist reading it, written in 1943, and more characters are introduced through the diary. Is it a diary, or a start of a novel? Emily isn’t sure.

I did get a nice feel for Bainbridge Island, and the author does a good job of describing the peaceful feeling that can come from hearing the sea. This is basically a romance with a touch of history and mystery; if you enjoy books of that sort, you might enjoy The Violets of March.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles

Submitted by Sharon, teen reviewer:

Derek Fitzpatrick, on the outside, is an all-around "bad boy," and trying to make himself believe it. While trying to keep a facade of not caring about anything, he's pulled into a life that he doesn't want with his stepmother as she moves them to Chicago. All he wanted was to forget the past and not look for anything to tie him down to one place. Can he go for what he wants when he meets Ashtyn?

Ashtyn Parker is the kicker of her high school football team, and the only girl. After getting voted Captain for her senior year, her team's quarterback goes MIA for a few days. When she meets Derek, the one guy she shouldn't want, things change. The only way to let things figure themselves out is if she can let herself trust Derek. Can she put her heart and her team all on the line?

I think Simone Elkeles, once again, nailed another brilliant series. I love how she seems like she's going to do one thing with the story and twists it with a compelling complication. My favorite thing about this book is how much creativity and personality she put into the characters. My favorite characters are Derek and his grandmother. I just find that I can relate to them.

Hild by Nicola Griffith

Hild is based on life in the 7th century. The setting is Britain. The author immediately puts you  into this world. The issue is the language, or terms used. I found myself starting to focus on the language instead of the story plot.
Once you work through the language the characters become interesting. There are many characters which is to be expected it is a book containing 536 pages.
This is a book for those readers who like historical fiction. It puts the reader into this violent time of plots, double plots, and a young girl trying to find her place in this world.
I found it challenging at times, but I am glad that I read it.