Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Someone Else's Daughter

By Linsey Lanier. Miranda Steele was pushed out of an abusive marriage to a cop after he took her infant daughter to an adoption agency. The child was not his, but was conceived in rape, therefore had no place in his home. Now, thirteen years later, Miranda has made herself strong, taken self defense and martial arts classes, stays on the move, works construction to stay fit, and looks for Amy, her daughter. Through a letter she wasn't supposed to receive she finds herself in Georgia, and is brought to the attention of and under the wing of Wade Parker. He owns a prestigious private investigation agency. He sees raw talent in Miranda and hires her, just in time to help with an investigation of a serial killer of 13 year olds.

The Shoes of the Fisherman

By Morris West, a highly prescient novel of the papacy. A Slavic pope is elected; he takes the name Kiril I. He has been 17 years in prison in Russia for the faith. His torturer, Kamenev, has risen to power in Russia. The two are almost friends. The book deals with the issues and reforms the new pope faces and implements. It is fascinating. The job is quite isolating and humbling. It can get bogged down in bureaucracy and paperwork. An interesting work.

Another Man's Treasure

A novel by S.W. Hubbard. Audrey has a business in which she prepares houses for and manages the estate sales for bereaved family members. In the house of Agnes Szabo she's preparing for the nephew Cam she finds a baggie full of street drugs in the kitchen and a trunk full of jewelry in the attic. Included in the jewelry? A ring that once belonged to Audrey's mother. A ring she never took off. A ring she was wearing when she committed suicide when Audrey was three. The ensuing investigation is very interesting, involving a senator with presidential aspirations, Cam, and an unexpected fire.

The Thirteenth Tale

By Diane Satterfield, this is a satisfying novel for those who love reading great literature as well as base gothic tales with ghosts. Vida Winter is a reclusive author known for making up wildly outlandish stories for her own history. Now, old and ill, she wants the truth to be told. She hires amateur biographer Margaret Lea, who has secrets of her own. The ensuing take is strange and mesmerizing, dealing with incest, feral twins, a ghost, and a devastating fire.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Eleanor and Park

A novel by Rainbow Rowell. Park tries desperately to fit in with the other high school kids, on the bus, at school. He's half-Korean, though, and can't quite do it. Eleanor doesn't pretend to fit in; her life is too hard. A chance encounter on the bus leads to friendship, then to more. But Eleanor's hard life catches up to them. Is star-crossed first love doomed to die?

A Body on the Porch

This is the tenth in the Dekker cozy mystery series by Steve Demaree. Cy Dekker is a former homicide detective in Hilldale, Kentucky. He and his partner, Lou Murdock, are now retired. On a vacation in Gatlinburg, Cy tells a stranger he'll investigate a murder free of charge for him, but only if the victim is found on his front porch. Lo and behold...

Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Hidden Letters of Velta B.

A novel by Gina Ochsner. A dying mother tells Latvian folktales, myths, and family history to her son who has extraordinary ears. I couldn't get into it and abandoned it midway. I'm learning that is perfectly okay.☺

The Life of Thomas More

By Peter Ackroyd, this biography reads like a novel. It's fabulous! The history and feeling of the times (More lived from 1478-1535) is incredible. Even though More was born into the professional classes, a long line of lawyers, the author covers not just how life would have been for More, but for the everyman, the intellectual, and the religious. More was a renowned statesman, author, and Catholic martyr. His ascension to the rank of Chancelor and fall from grace was riveting. The absolute hubris of Henry VIII so heartbreaking. He tore a country asunder from the true faith for lust, not only of Anne Boleyn, but of power. Sorrowful. Highly recommended book.

A Simple Favor

This a psychological thriller by Darcey Bell. Stephanie is a widow with a kindergartener and a blog that gives her the company and validation she needs. Emily is a glamorous public relations guru for a fashion designer whose son is friends with Stephanie's. One rainy day they strike up a conversation and quickly become friends themselves. Emily asks, some months later, for a simple favor; could Stephanie pick up Emily's son when she picks up her own? Sean, her husband, is out of town; the nanny has the day off.... Of course. Mom friends. No problem. Emily doesn't return to pick up her boy. When Sean comes back, they report Emily missing. Then a body is found with her DNA, wearing her ring, in the lake outside her family's cottage. Stephanie blogs every stage of confusion, of grief, of helping Sean and his son recover. But the secrets everyone carries, the lies, betrayals spill over. Emily is the least likable character ever. Stephanie is a close second. I would pity the children if these women were real. I truly hope the author has not met such manipulative moms. This is a debut novel; it shows.

Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library

A fun children's book by Chris Grabenstein. Kyle Kelley has two older brothers, a jock and a brain. He can only compete with them in playing board games; their favorites are those designed by Luigi Lemoncello. Imagine Kyle's excitement when he finds out the famous game maker has designed the town's new public library and is having an invitation-only lock-in for opening night! Kyle decides he has to be there - and he wins a spot with 11 other 12-year-olds. But the challenge is to get OUT of the library. Passing this on to my youngest.

The Trespasser

By Tana French, sixth in the Dublin Murder Squad series. Aislinn Murray, well-groomed and pretty, is found dead in her right-out-of-a-catalog living room, next to a table set for a romantic dinner. Detectives Conway and Moran are given the case, and Detective Breslin as backup. He's pushing for a quick solve; just a simple domestic quarrel, pin it on the boyfriend who swears he never got into the house. But is that where the evidence is leading? And what about the shadowy figure haunting Conway's lane? A convoluted tale.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Girl You Left Behind

A novel by Jojo Moyes, the title refers to a painting. The painting is of Sophie Lefevre rendered by her husband Edouard in France in the early 1900's. In 1916, he goes to the front to fight. Sophie runs her family's small inn with her sister, even after their town falls to the Germans. The portrait of Sophie catches the eye of the Kommandant. He becomes obsessed with the painting, and Sophie decides to risk everything for a chance to see her husband again.

Nearly a century later, the portrait is given to Liv Halston by her husband as a wedding gift shortly before his untimely death. Then a chance encounter reveals it's true worth and a legal battle ensues. Was it looted during the war? Who should pay restitution? And who is the true owner?

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

An interesting children's book by Brian Selznick. It's a past winner of the Caldecott Award. Hugo is an orphan and a clock keeper in the busy Paris train station in 1931. His survival depends on anonymity and thieving. He makes the acquaintance of a bookish young girl and her guardian, a bitter old man who runs a toy shop in the train station. That's when his secret life, and his most treasured possession, are put at risk. This is a fascinating combination of picture book and graphic novel with lovely illustrations.

The Secret Place

The fifth in Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad series, this book is about loyalty and friendship. Sixteen-year-old Holly Mackey finds a card with a picture of a murdered boy on it and the caption "I know who killed him" on The Secret Place, a board where the girls at St. Kilda's school can post their secrets anonymously. She is a detective's daughter, but doesn't want to take the card to her dad, so she takes it to Detective Stephen Moran, in Cold Cases. Moran has wanted to get on the Murder Squad and sees this as his chance. The photo is of Chris Harper, who was killed a year ago on the grounds of St. Kilda's. The investigating officer was Antoinette Conway, a prickly, abrasive murder Detective. They join forces to find out who posted the card and from there to solve the case. Narrowed down, their search focuses on two cliques in St. Kilda's Boarding School for girls; Joanne, a queen bee, and her three lackeys; and Holly and her three free-spirited friends. The dangers for the detectives are many, not least of which are the machinations of teenage girls. 


Book 1 in the Unwind Dystology by Neal Shusterman. An incredible book! Based on the premise that a second civil war, also known as The Heartland War, has been waged in the United States over a single issue; abortion. To end the war, a set of constitutional amendments known as the "Bill of Life" was passed, stating that from the moment of conception until a child reaches age 13, that child's life could not be touched.  Between 13 - 18, however, a parent may "retroactively" choose to "abort" a child on the condition that the child's life doesn't technically end; every bit of the child is salvaged for parts for transplant in others. This solution satisfied both pro-choice and pro-life armies (obviously, the author is equating pro-life with pro- birth). The process of salvaging for parts is called "unwinding".

Connor is a troublemaker, so his parents want to be rid of him. Risa is an orphan, has no utility for society, and the orphanage wants to free up her bed. Lev is a "tithe", a sacrifice his strict religious family has planned from his birth. All three are slated for unwinding. this is the story of how they try to escape their fate and the challenges and characters they meet on the way. It's a very thought provoking book. What is a "meaningful" life? Where does the soul go after death? Abortion, transplants, adoption (through the unusual practice of "storking"), and other heavy issues. The author is good about just asking the questions without inserting his own solutions, but letting the reader come to conclusions on his/her own. It is rather heavy for a young adult novel, though that seems to be the norm. I have passed this one on to my kids.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Girl With All the Gifts

A postapocalyptic thriller by M.R. Carey. Wow! Melanie is a child/prisoner. She spends her time strapped in a wheelchair in classroom with others like herself, learning from various teachers. Or she is in her cell. Alone. Her favorite teacher is Miss Justineau. Sergeant Parks is in charge of moving her from the cell to the classroom; he holds a gun on her while two of his people strap her into the chair. There is also Dr. Caldwell, whom Melanie doesn't like nor trust. You're sucked into the story almost against your will. Turns out, Melanie is at Hotel Echo, a military base/ research facility somewhere outside London after The Breakdown has happened. A fungal infection, highly contagious, has struck. Almost everyone infected "dies" soon after, leaving the husk of his or her body to carry on with one goal - to feed. They're called "hungries". Basically, this is a zombie apocalypse book and it is amazing! Hotel Echo gets overrun by junkers (survivalists) and hungries. Melanie escapes with Miss Justineau, Dr. Caldwell, Sergeant Parks, and one of his soldiers. They head toward Beacon, a refugee camp on the other side of London. Melanie comes to learn about herself and makes decisions no ten year old should be responsible for, but, as test subject number one, she is up for the challenge. Recommended.


The Cowboy's Calabrese Mail Order Bride. Book one of the Sweet Land of Liberty Brides series by Lorena Dove. Giovanna Ransoni is newly-widowed, living with her young daughter Rosa. Rosa is ill, and Giovanna worries how to care for her properly. A friend helps her reply to an advertisement for a mail order bride placed by Laars Gundersen. Laars wants a bride and someone to help with his cows. Giovanna is looking for a way to pay for Rosa's treatment. Can two people looking out for their own interests actually forge a marriage?

Friday, March 2, 2018

Stone Groove

This is a Dale Conley thriller by Erik Carter. It is set in the 70's. Dale Conley is an agent for the Bureau of Esoteric Investigations. When an entire commune goes missing, eerily reminiscent of the lost colony of Roanoke complete with Dare stones, Conley is called in. Is it because of his solve rate, or because of his past?