Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Bird Skinner by Alice Greenway

Two different reviews written by Galesburg Public Library patrons of The Bird Skinner by Alice Greenway:

From Juanita:
The author has a very refreshing style of writing - short sentences, short chapters, an uncanny ability to draw you into the story, the subject matter about which you have little or no interest but about which she has great knowledge and the ability to impart that knowledge to you and make you want more.  You will finish the book because of our human interest in all the sordid details of others' lives. No matter our circumstances (or others'), self made or not, we can't help but hope for something better in the long run....if not for ourselves, for someone close to us.

From S:
Do you read slowly, savor the use of words and references, enjoy characterization and an interrupted story line, and remember TREASURE ISLAND?  This is the book for you.  This is NOT a quick read book, but a predictable ending book about an ornithologist as he re-focuses on his past life from 1917 to 1973.  Be prepared to learn about birds, Maine and the Solomon Islands through Jim's life experiences. I enjoyed the book.  This book does NOT call you to be read; you need to want to know Jim better.  Greenway's writing style is clear. I hope to read other books by Greenway.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss is the first book in The Kingkiller Chronicle. (The second book, The Wise Man's Fear, has also been published. The third book is being written.)

I recommend The Name of the Wind to any lover of detailed, lengthy epic fantasy. Imagine if Harry Potter, years after his adventures at Hogwarts, had ended up alone and now tending a bar for patrons who have no idea who he is. A scribe happens along and realizes who he is, and he begins to tell his life story to the scribe to record.

This isn’t Harry Potter, of course, but that gives you some idea of what this book is like. The world building is slow and deliberate. I wished the pace would pick up a bit at times, but that’s a minor quibble. I’m glad I kept going. This is a tale to savor and enjoy, and there are two more books to go.

This is a familiar tale to ease into. It’s original enough to feel fresh, but it follows fantasy patterns we know and love. Although we meet Kvothe’s parents, he becomes an orphan. He struggles to find enough money to stay alive and later to stay in school, and he has an intense rivalry with a spoiled rich kid who is not as talented as he is. There is A Girl. There is an older man who serves as Kvothe’s original mentor. There is a terrible force responsible for the death of his parents.

None of this detracts from the effectiveness of the tale. It ends in the middle of the story, but with a line determined to send you off to find the next book in the series. I read The Name of the Wind in short bits over about a month. I wish I’d started it when I had a large block of time to finish it quickly so I could have immersed myself in the world. I’m going to aim for that with book 2!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Murdeer in Pigalle by Cara Black

This mystery is set in France. It is very evident that the author is extremely familiar with France and the French language. The story line is interesting. It would be a great book with you were knowledgeable with basic French however, if not the language can be a bit distracting to the actual story. I found this book able to put me walking the streets with Aimee, the descriptions of streets, people, buildings, the heat, all of it very European. There are several issues revolving around the characters and an unsuspecting end to the story. A good book to read especially it you have visited France or even Europe.

When Shadows Fall by J.T. Ellison

I found this book hard to put down. It was fast paced, full of surprises, and not predictable.  The main character is a Forensic pathologist who has had personal issues. It has some romance but not as a main theme. It would be natural to compare this author with P. Cornwell the topic is the same the writing different. This is a good read for those who like puzzles!

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Angel's Kiss by Melody Malone and Justin Richards

The Angel's Kiss is an over-the-top celebration of noir and the assets of Melody Malone aka Melody Williams aka River Song. Alex Kingston makes the most of every pun and double entendre in this short story, the "book" that Melody wrote in the Doctor Who episode The Angels Take Manhattan. There is no depth here, but I enjoyed listening to Kingston read this silly story. If you are a fan of Doctor Who, River Song, and Alex Kingston, you will probably find it a diverting hour and forty-five minutes. Otherwise I suspect you just won’t get it.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Last Girl by Jane Casey

The Last Girl is another excellent offering in the Detective Constable Maeve Kerrigan series from Jane Casey. It contains a puzzling murder, excellent development of multiple characters, a complicated romance, and plot threads carrying from previous books to this one and on to the next book without disrupting the flow of the current book. Well written and engaging, I recommended the Maeve Kerrigan series to anyone who likes a good police procedural or British mystery.

The first book is The Burning and the second is The Reckoning. The Galesburg Public Library owns all three.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Innocence by Dean Koontz

Although Dean Koontz is a bestselling author, I’ve never read any books by him before. This is very odd since his books often contain elements of fantasy and science fiction and I’m a big fan of both. I read excellent reviews of his newest book, Innocence, as well as the fact that the New York City central library is an important part of the story, and I decided to give it a try.

Innocence is a take on the Beauty and the Beast story. The narrator is a 26-year-old who lives in solitude under the streets of New York. He, and the man he called Father, strike such fear and loathing in those who see them that the others are driven to extreme violence. They survive through the goodness of one man who has given them a key to a food and thrift store serving the needy. They emerge at night and keep their faces and eyes hidden at all times.

We know at the beginning of the tale that Addison Goodheart’s foster father is no longer with him. Addison’s story is spun out slowly, moving between the present and his past. We find out about the mother who was repelled by him but nonetheless saved him as an infant and raised him through early childhood. We find out how he met his foster father. 

Early in the narration, Addison visits the library at night, when he expects it to be empty. Instead, he sees a slender teenaged girl, made up to look like a spooky marionette, running from a furious man in a suit shouting death threats and more at her. The girl, Gwyneth, escapes the man, and she and Addison become acquainted. Gwyneth, also an orphan, has issues of her own, and she also lives a solitary life. The man, a powerful and evil man, indeed wants to kill her, and Addison and Gwyneth are drawn together against him.

I enjoyed the story. Although the true nature of Addison’s situation did not surprise me, other things did. I was surprised by plot points along the way, and by the thoroughness of the book’s resolution.  It was a little too fairy tale for me, but still satisfactory.  I won’t say any more for fear of spoiling the book for others.

Innocence left me more thoughtful than I expected. I will definitely pick up another Dean Koontz book to read. If you like a well-written thoughtful thriller dealing with good and evil and the nature of mankind, I recommend Innocence.