Greetings fellow reading enthusiasts!
How nice of you to stop by. Today I find myself with a bit of a dilemma. Nothing too dramatic, it's just that I've got a rather large pile of books that are waiting to be reviewed. I've already done the reading, and jotted my impressions along with the occasional quote in my handy-dandy notebook. I just haven't made the time to do the writing. I love it, but it takes me a while to get the words from the inside to the outside in a way that makes sense to other people. I also know that if I lollygag for too long I'll forget what the book was really about and the review will never get written. Instead of letting that happen I came up with a solution - mini reviews. A brief, scaled down version that lets you know a little about the book and a little about what I think. All of these books (except one) were published within the last year and should be available at your local library - that's where mine came from! There's a variety of different genres, with something for most everyone. I hope that you enjoy the abridged reviews and are inspired to visit the library and check out the latest titles in popular fiction.
The Burning Air by Erin Kelly
Feb 21, 2013
Pamela Dorman Books; 336 Pages
The MacBrides lead a cozy life of upper class privilege: good looks (more or less), a beautiful home, tuition-free education at the prestigious private school where Rowan is headmaster, an altruistic righteousness inherited from magistrate Lydia.
But when Rowan and his three grown children gather for the first time since Lydia’s passing at the family’s weekend home—a restored barn in the English countryside—years of secrets surface, and they discover a stranger in their midst. A stranger who is convinced that Lydia was a murderer. A stranger who has been exacting vengeance upon the family for years without their ever knowing. And one who will threaten the youngest MacBride, baby Edie, and the clan’s memory of Lydia, shattering their world forever.
Oh, this is a good one! Different from what I've been reading lately and a welcome change. It appears that the MacBrides have it all, but like so many families there are skeletons and secrets lying just beneath the surface of their seemingly perfect world. With vivid detail the author brought each member to life and I enjoyed the way that growing up in the same house had such a varied impact on each person. There is a darkness that shadows them all, but the most disturbing is the stranger. A psychologically complex and frightening character whose adult life is shaped by a chaotic childhood and a series of unexpected events. This is a page turner that kept me in suspense to the very end.
Ashfall (Ashfall Trilogy - Book 1) by Mike Mullen
Ashen Winter (Book 2)
Both Published October 16, 2012
Tanglewood Press; 476 Pages
Under the bubbling hot springs and geysers of Yellowstone National Park is a supervolcano. Most people don't know it's there. The caldera is so large that it can only be seen from a plane or satellite. It just could be overdue for an eruption, which would change the landscape and climate of our planet.
For Alex, being left alone for the weekend means having the freedom to play computer games and hang out with his friends without hassle from his mother. Then the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, plunging his hometown into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence. Alex begins a harrowing trek to search for his family and finds help in Darla, a travel partner he meets along the way. Together they must find the strength and skills to survive and outlast an epic disaster.
What can I say - I loved the first two books in this trilogy. I'm not even sure why I picked the first one up since they're way outside of my normal reading zone. Anyway, I was pulled in from the very start. The author wastes no time getting to the action and by page 5 the world is changed forever. This is a fast moving, in your face, high octane story where all kinds of intense things happen. Alex is a smart kid, and soon learns that he is responsible for his survival. With every decision he makes he is faced with a whole new set of circumstances that require another decision. Can you imagine? I found myself reading late into the night, finishing the first book in a few days. Luckily for me book two was available, and I moved through it just as fast! These books are more than just a thrill ride. They show the importance of family. They raise questions about morals and humanity and compassion when the world we know no longer exists. They made me think about how fragile life is and what I would do to protect myself and the ones I love. I could say more, but I'll end with this: I enjoyed the series so far and I'm anxious to see what happens next!
The Husband List by Janet Evanovich & Dorien Kelly
January 8, 2013
St. Martin's Press; 320 Pages
Caroline Maxwell would like nothing more than to join her brother, Eddie, and his friend, Jack Culhane, on their adventures. While Jack and Eddie are off seeing the world, buying up businesses and building wildly successful careers, Caroline's stuck at home frightening off the men her mother hopes will ask for her hand in marriage. When her mother sets her sights on the questionable Lord Bremerton as a possible suitor, Caroline struggles with her instincts and the true nature of her heart. She longs for adventure, passion, love, and most of all . . . Jack Culhane, an unconventional Irish-American bachelor with new money and no title. A completely unacceptable suitor in the eyes of Caroline's mother. But Caroline's dark hair, brilliant eyes and quick wit have Jack understanding just why it is people fall in love and get married.
If you read my review of Janet's last book, you know that I'm a long time fan who has become disappointed in the (lack of) development of her main character Stephanie Plum. Thankfully, this is not a Stephanie Plum mystery. The Husband List is something very different. It's a historical romantic comedy that is reminiscent of old school Evanovich. It's witty and warm, quick and engaging. The story line is simple and it's predictable but that doesn't stop it from being a relaxing way to spend your reading time. I enjoyed the humor and adventure that the main character Caroline brings to the ordinary events of the time period. If you're looking for something light and entertaining this is good pick.
Red Velvet Cupcake Murder (A Hannah Swenson Mystery - #17) by Joanne Fluke
February 26, 2013
Kensington; 304 Pages
On a hot, muggy evening, the last thing Hannah Swensen wants to do is squeeze into pantyhose for the Grand Opening of the refurbished Albion Hotel. But with her famous Red Velvet cupcakes being served in the hotel's new Red Velvet lounge, she can't back out. The party starts off with a bang with the unexpected arrival of Doctor Bev on the arm of a wealthy investor -- and comes to a screeching halt when a partygoer takes a dive off the rooftop garden.
I'm a fan of the Hannah Swensen mysteries. I call them "Mystery-Lite" I like to listen to them on CD in my kitchen while I'm cooking. Hannah likes to cook and she likes to bake delicious confections for her store - The Cookie Jar. She also likes to eat - and I do too! That's about where our similarities end. Hannah has a penchant for finding dead bodies, and for solving the mysteries that surround them. I've read or listened to most of the 17 books in the series and still find that I enjoy them. (I'm not sure why I have more tolerance for Hannah than I do for Stephanie (Plum) - that's something to explore another day!) As for this book, it delivers everything that I've come to expect. There's nothing too graphic and plenty of kind and supportive family and friends ready to lend a hand. The mystery itself wasn't much of a surprise, but that's okay. I don't think these books are for everyone, but if you like murder among friendly folks (think the Faith Fairchild Mysteries or the Puzzle Lady books) than you'll enjoy this one.
The Causal Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
September 27, 2012
Little, Brown & Co.; 512 Pages
When Barry Fairbrother dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…. Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the town’s council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations? Blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults.
Alright folks. I'm at a loss here. The truth is I just couldn't get into it, and after about 100 pages or so I gave up. I wanted to love it. Of course I realize that it had to be very different from Harry Potter, and that's fine because usually I don't read books about young wizards. But Rowling is a truly gifted story teller and that's what I was looking for. Sadly, I never found it. The main reason that it failed me is because I was introduced to so many members of the community in short little snippets that I lost track and then I lost interest. I thought that eventually it would blend together into a cohesive story line, and perhaps it does. It just didn't happen quickly enough for me. I read several reviews on LibraryThing that eluded to many sharing my feelings. However there also was a rather large contingency that said if you can endure the first half of the book you will be rewarded for your diligence in the second half. I suppose that's a good thing, but I'd rather read a book that's good all the way through instead!
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
February 11, 2003
Crown; 464 Pages
Two men, each handsome and unusually adept at his chosen work, embodied an element of the great dynamic that characterized America’s rush toward the twentieth century. The architect was Daniel Hudson Burnham, the fair’s brilliant director of works and the builder of many of the country’s most important structures, including the Flatiron Building in New York and Union Station in Washington, D.C. The murderer was Henry H. Holmes, a young doctor who, in a malign parody of the White City, built his “World’s Fair Hotel” just west of the fairgrounds—a torture palace complete with dissection table, gas chamber, and 3,000-degree crematorium. Burnham overcame tremendous obstacles and tragedies as he organized the talents of Frederick Law Olmsted, Charles McKim, Louis Sullivan, and others to transform swampy Jackson Park into the White City, while Holmes used the attraction of the great fair and his own satanic charms to lure scores of young women to their deaths. What makes the story all the more chilling is that Holmes really lived, walking the grounds of that dream city by the lake.
Chilling, terrifying, intense, unimaginable... These are a few words that come to mind as I think about this book. It's a complete departure from what I've been reading lately. Actually, I listened to this one on the recommendation of a library friend/patron. And as disturbing as it was, I think it's safe to say that both of us were captivated by this story. It felt like equal parts of fascination and horror. It was interesting to learn about the history of the Chicago World's Fair from the perspective of those that were responsible for bringing it to life. Yet in the same moment that something bright and beautiful was being created, the Doctor was casting an evil shadow over the city that he viewed as his personal macabre playground. Although this book was published a decade ago, it is a timeless tale of good and evil. It has some gruesome scenes and images that may not be for everyone - Mystery-Lite this story is not!
Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing part of your day with me.
One of the great things about books is we all respond to them differently. Everyone has an opinion and there is no right or wrong. I hope that you enjoyed my mini-reviews. I feel so much better now that they're done! Have you read any of these yet? I'd love to hear your thoughts on any of the titles.
Until next time,
Wishing you all the happiness words can bring!
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All of the opinions expressed here are my own and in no way represent the positions, opinions, feelings, views, or beliefs of the Athol Public Library.
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