Saturday, July 29, 2017

November's Past

This is the first in a series by A.E. Howe. Larry Macklin is not fond of his job as a deputy in a small Florida county. Doesn't even think he's that good at it. But when two murders and an arson case seem related by incidents that happened thirty years ago, that may involve his dad, the sheriff, Larry finds he's a better investigator than he suspected. This is a self - published book with some grammar mistakes that are a little irritating.

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Forgetting Time

I didn't like this debut novel by Sharon Guskin. I don't agree with the subject matter, reincarnation, and actually should have stopped reading when I realized that was what the book was about. However, by that time I was invested. And, it is against my nature to stop reading a book mid-stream.

Janie is a single mother of a "difficult" son. Four-year-old Noah is terrified of water and won't take a bath. He has horrifying nightmares. He cries inconsolably, asking when he's going home and where his other mother is. Then Janie gets a pivotal call from Noah's preschool and help for him becomes crucial. Jerome Anderson was once a preeminent scientist, but his research led in a laughable direction. Now, he may be Janie and Noah's last hope, and, after a devastating diagnosis, they are definitely his last case.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

John of the Cross: Selected Writings

From the Classics of Western Spirituality series, edited by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. I have long been interested in Carmelite spirituality and picked this up for my morning devotions. John of the Cross wrote beautiful, mystical prose and poetry, but I had not familiarized myself with his work. Taking pieces of this book in the morning would be just the ticket, I thought. No. Maybe it was the fact that these were just selections... maybe it was the translation used... maybe it was simply not the right time for me to tackle this Saint. The Ascent of Mount Carmel was difficult: The Dark Night well nigh impossible! The Spiritual Canticle easier: The Living Flame of Love most available, understandable, and my favorite offering in this book. Knowing his two most important works left me scratching my head is a little depressing. I have farther to go on the spiritual path than my arrogance(?) was thinking, and look how far I've come! With God's grace, I'll get there.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Sea of Tranquility

The debut novel by Katja Millay which I found un-put-down-able. I read it in less than a day. In it we are introduced to Nastya Kashnikov, who has just moved to a new town to make a new start. She is determined that no one know of the tragedy that befell her two and a half years before, making her feel half the girl she once was. She wants to get through high school, keep everyone at a distance, and nurse her rage. Yet she is, inexplicably, drawn to someone just as isolated as she. Josh Bennett could be a tragic figure, if he milked it more. At seventeen, his last family member has died, there is no one left. Everyone at school considers knowing him tantamount to a death sentence; they give him a wide berth. Except Nastya. Together, will the miracle of second chances find them?

This book was well plotted, the alternating viewpoints added much. My library copy had a reader's club guide in it which really made me think, as well (I read everything in a book). We are given bits and pieces of the story, a little at a time. Having it doled out like that really keeps you keen for the rest of the story. A great read. Highly recommended.

Jane Steele: A Confession

This nod to Jane Eyre by Lyndsay Faye was recommended by Modern Mrs. Darcy (or her readers) for the reading challenge in the category of being "un-put-down-able" . I didn't find it so. However, it is a rollicking good read! Jane Steele is raised on tales of owning Highgate House by her beautiful, fragile, French mother. Yet she lives in the cottage on the grounds while her spiteful aunt and hateful cousin live in the manor house. They become predatory when she is left an orphan and she is shipped off to a boarding school where she has to fight for her very life. She escapes to London, leaving the corpses of her tormentors in her wake. She spends time writing "last confessions" of the recently executed, to make her way and hide from the law herself. Then she sees the advertisement; her aunt has died and the new owner of Highgate House, Mr. Charles Thornfield, is looking for a governess for his ward. Interested to know whether the manor is, indeed, hers, Jane goes undercover as a governess at a greatly changed Highgate House. For the new residents are all Sikh and lately from the wars.... She learns much about herself during her sojourn there, even as she falls in love with the tragic Mr. Thornfield.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

J.K. Rowling's final book in the fascinating fantasy series, this one moves kind of slowly at times and is quite frenetic at others. All the pieces are tied together, with one omission ( the goblin Gripnhook took the sword of Gryffindor, yet Neville uses it toward the end and this is never explained). It is sad, and satisfactory at the same time. The epilogue leads one to believe more books may be in the works with the second generation, but Rowling seems to have moved on to other projects. Of course, the play "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" has been released.... Not Rowling's and not quite up to her standards.

Harry Potter and the Half - Blood Prince

In this sixth installment of the fantasy series by J.K. Rowling, Harry gets to be a normal teen wizard. He concentrates on lessons (with help from the mysterious Half - Blood Prince), quidditch, a girlfriend. The war against Voldemort is not going well, so Dumbledore gives Harry private lessons searching for the complete story of Voldemort's life in hopes of finding what makes him vulnerable. This book is darker still and may cause warned if you're reading aloud to the children.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

The fifth installment of J.K. Rowling's fantasy series and the darkest yet. As the Dark Lord increases in power, the Ministry of Magic remains in denial. The Ministry also fears Dumbledore's influence and so makes great changes at Hogwarts. These things take away from Harry's study time for the Ordinary Wizarding Level exams. Friends are even more important this year for Harry, especially as sacrifice looms ever closer.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

The fourth novel in J.K. Rowling's fantasy series, and Harry's fourth year at Hogwarts. He's halfway through his training as a wizard in this book. He gets to go to the Quidditch World Cup with his friends. He finds out about a mysterious event taking place at Hogwarts involving two rival schools of magic, he has a crush. In short, he wants to be a normal teen wizard. However, Harry has never been normal... and that difference can be dangerous!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Birth Order Book

Why You Are The Way You Are, by Dr. Kevin Leman. Dr. Leman takes the four positions in the family; first born, middle child, baby, and only child, and tells how that position helps shape your personality and influences your interests and career choices. He gives the typical strengths for each birth order to nurture and the usual weaknesses to be overcome. He includes relationship information of all types. I enjoy personality theory books; this one is more anecdotal than evidence based, though he does include notes referencing scientific studies on occasion. I have had the pleasure to hear Dr. Leman speak at a Hearts at Home Conference; he is a delightful man. This is an enjoyable book. It helped explain some things I'd wondered about in my family of origin for many years. Big plus!

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

This young adult fantasy novel by J.K. Rowling is, in the words of my oldest daughter, neither too silly nor too dark. When I realized my youngest daughter was rereading the series for the nth time, I thought I would reread them as well. I think this was also the last book in the series which had a dedicated editor. This is a delightful book, and the blurb on the back tells what it's about; "For twelve long years, the dread fortress of Azkaban held an infamous prisoner named Sirius Black. Convicted of killing thirteen people with a single curse, he was said to be the heir apparent to the Dark Lord, Voldemort.  Now he has escaped, leaving only two clues as to where he might be headed: Harry Potter's defeat of You-Know-Who was Black's downfall as well. And the Azkaban guards heard Black muttering in his sleep, ' He's at Hogwarts... he's at Hogwarts.'  Harry Potter isn't safe, not even within the walls of his magical school, surrounded by his friends. Because on top of it all, there may well be a traitor in their midst."

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

This is a delightful novel written by Mary Ann  Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Set as a series of letters to and from Juliet Ashton, a London author just after World War II, it tells the story of the German occupation of the Channel Island of Guernsey and how the people survived. Some, with the help of literature, make-do recipes, and friends, even thrived. Highly recommended.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Secret Keepers

I read this juvenile novel by Trenton Lee Stewart at the advice of my daughter. Stewart is the author of the Mysterious Benedict Society series; books that were devoured at our house. This novel falls into that category, too. Reuben is an 11-year-old explorer of the Lower Downs, the part of the city of New Umbra in which he resides. New Umbra is a sad city, in the grip of the Smoke, a mysterious man who tyrannizes all those under him, including the Directions, his lookouts and enforcers. One fateful day Reuben finds a watch which gives him a special power. That leads him to Mrs. Genevieve, to Penny, to Jack. The secrets and danger pile up... can the Smoke be toppled by this unlikely alliance? A great read (or read aloud).