Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

Posted for reader Kaye:

Mysterious disappearances of people in town - over decades of time. Gruesome murders and badly battered bodies. Superstitions and old legends whispered among the villagers. A killer that evades capture. Warnings to stay out of the woods taught to the children from birth.

An old diary is found hidden away that tells of a portal from which a grieving loved one might call a dead person back for seven days if they perform a ritual. But sometimes this dead person, called "a sleeper," doesn't leave at the end of their seven days.

The story of The Winter People is set in West Hall, Vermont, and author Jennifer McMahon does a great job describing the hills and countryside. She makes you feel like you know the characters and keeps you reading to see what is going to happen next. I look forward to reading Promise Not to Tell, which is another of her books.

 - Kaye

[The Winter People and other books by Jennifer McMahon can be found at the Galesburg Public Library under the author's last name in the adult Fiction section.]

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Fin & Lady by Cathleen Schine

Fin & Lady by Cathleen Schine is a sweet novel about half siblings in New York in the turbulent 1960s.

Fin is 11 when his mother dies, leaving him an orphan. His father, also dead, had a daughter by a previous marriage, and Lady is the only family Fin has left. Lady is 23, and not exactly the model guardian. She retrieves Fin and his dog Gus from the Connecticut farm where he grew up and takes him back to New York City with her.

Lady is a wild child, a glamorous figure Fin hardly knows. She’s seeking something, and even she is not sure what. Fin is seeking a family, and he finds it, awkwardly, in Lady and her black maid Mabel.

Lady is the kind of person everyone falls in love with. She has multiple suitors and three in particular. Fin has a favorite, a Hungarian named Biffi, and Fin adds Biffi to his family as well, although Lady is reluctant to settle down with any of them.

The dialog in Fin & Lady is smart, a little too smart sometimes, but enjoyable. Information about the 1960s is woven into the plot in a believable way for the most part. Fin is always reading, various real books that also reflect on the times and Fin’s life with Lady.

I liked spending time with Fin and Lady, and I enjoyed Cathleen Schine’s writing style. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a nice character-driven novel. Fin & Lady can be found at the Galesburg Public in both regular Fiction and Large Print.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

I’ve never read any Joe Abercrombie but was intrigued by the cover on an advance reader copy of Half a King. What a great story! I thoroughly enjoyed the book. The main character, Prince Yarvi, is sympathetic, believable, and imperfect. Although some characters, like the ship’s captain, are stock, Yarvi’s closest companions are well drawn. It was easy to tell them apart.

After about 40 pages of world building and otherwise setting up the story, the action begins in earnest and doesn’t let up. Yarvi is cast into the wild world friendless and alone, and he makes his own new family. The plot took a number of turns I didn’t expect, and there was one twist at the end that both surprised and delighted me.

I enjoyed the dialog, especially when the mysterious man called Nothing was involved.
“If you have a plan,” hissed Sumael from the corner of her mouth, “now would be the time.”
“I have a plan,” said Nothing.
“Does it involve a sword?” asked Jaud.
A pause. “All my plans do.”
“Do you have a sword?”
Another. “No.”
“How will your plan work without one?” muttered Sumael.
A third. “Death waits for us all.”
I fell into this book and just wanted to stay there. I look forward to the next book in the series. I recommend Half a King for any lovers of high fantasy. It will be available shortly at the Galesburg Public Library under the author's last name in the New Fiction section.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Posted for reader Kaye:

This story is set in the year 1922 in London. It is after the war and is a very hard time for people. Soldiers are home from the war, disillusioned from the war and the condition of the country. Unemployment is high, jobs are scarce, and so is money and food.

This is a story of a well to do family that has fallen on hard times. Both sons are killed in the war. Their servants all leave them for jobs in the factories during the war that pay more money. The father of the family also dies, and his widow learns he has made poor investments and has lost most of their wealth. The spinster daughter, who has never worked, has taken over the jobs of the servants.

After selling off the grandfather clock, silver, etc., the daughter converts three rooms of their rapidly degrading home into an apartment to rent out. The young couple who rents the apartment will change all their lives in just a few months. 

A love story unfolds; a murder and a sensational trial follows. The unexpected end to the trial will keep you reading to the end.

The author does a wonderful job of describing the homes. the scenery, the costumes for this time period. She makes you feel you can see the characters and know them also. I loved this book and look forward to reading more by her!

Final Silence is due out September 16, 2014.


The Final Silence by Stuart Neville

Posted for reader Kaye:

This story is set in Belfast, Northern Ireland and is the main reason I chose this book. I wish the author had spent more time writing a description of the countryside and scenery, setting a scene for his story.

A family inherits a house when the mother's estranged brother dies. The job of clearing out the home falls to the daughter in the family. In the process of clearing out the house, she finds pictures of the uncle, her father, and another who belonged to a paramilitary organization decades before.

She also finds evidence that the uncle might be a serial murderer. She summons her parents and they don't want her to report it to the police, as it might ruin her politician father's career. She seeks advice of an old friend. There is another murder, some of the evidence disappears, and the friend is brought in for questioning.

This book is a quick read and it did hold my interest to the end.

Final Silence is due out October 28, 2014.