Monday, January 23, 2017

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Vasya has always been able to see them, the creatures of the hearth and stables and woods.  She tended to their well being as did the rest of the village, making sure they were fed and happy, and in return prosperity came to the village in rural Russia.  When Vasya’s father remarries a woman who also has the sight, but believes what she sees are demons, the old ways are violently pushed aside and a young priest takes on the post at the village church on a mission to banish the old ways for good.  But just because you choose to no longer believe or heed the old ways does that mean the old ones won’t come for you?

This story read like an old fashioned fairy tale; everything starts to slowly fall apart and our heroine is forced to make difficult decisions and fight insurmountable odds to save the village, including her biggest foes, from the danger they refuse to believe is coming.  The characters could have stepped off the page and I was pleased to know that this was the first entry in a trilogy so I can return to their village one day.  Even those who are not fans of fantasy will find many elements of this story to enjoy.  I recommend reading it during a cold snap in front of a roaring fire with a steaming bowl of stew if possible.

The old religion meets the new in the beautiful and haunting forest in northern Russia and I can’t wait to journey back there to know what happens next.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

I Am Not a Serial Killer (Indie Film - Sort of Scary Thriller, Based on a Book)

I Am Not a Serial Killer (Indie Film - Sort of Scary Thriller, Based on a Book)

John Wayne Cleaver is concerned that he will one day become a serial killer.  He has all the classic signs -- even his therapist agrees -- but he knows he doesn’t want to be a killer.  But when a serial killer comes to his small town John knows he may be the one best equipped to stop the killings, even if that means breaking some of his own strict rules.

For those who miss Dexter Morgan you will find a lot to like in the books by Dan Wells as well as this movie adaptation of the first book in the series.  I’m always nervous to see a book I enjoyed put on the screen, but this is a great adaptation.  The lead, Max Records, is a believable teenage boy fighting with inner demons and Christopher Lloyd was cast perfectly!

The Girl Before by J. P. Delaney

The Girl Before by J. P. Delaney

Jane is recovering from a personal tragedy and wants to completely start over: new job, new home, new life.  Her real estate agent shares a unique listing in London, one that comes with hundreds of rules for tidiness and organization. The idea of culling her possessions, answering extensive questionnaires not only to be accepted to live in the house, but at random intervals as time goes on, and living in a place so technologically advanced the lighting changes to help improve your mood really appeals to her.  Jane isn’t even too concerned when she learns that the previous resident, Emma, died in the house.  That is until she starts to learn more and more about the girl who was there before.

The book is told in alternating chapters between Emma and Jane and the fragility of these women makes the strange life choices they make seem believable.  And the author has a knack for making you look, stare even, at one point as something else is happening right there on the page.  I want to say so much more but I can’t.  I don’t want to risk ruining it for you.

This book keeps being compared to The Girl on a Train which I think is completely unfair.  I thought it was much better and completely different.  What it does have in common is the potential to be the breakout psychological thriller of January -- which I hope it becomes because it seriously deserves to be the next big hit.  Is it deep literary fiction?  No, it’s not that.  But it is a thriller that will keep you up all night reading through to the end.

Put your holds on now -- it is released next week!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Neighbors and their friends are invited to a barbeque. Something happens. Something bad. Something that has a ripple effect through everyone present that day and all the members of the three families at the get together. 

Like in Big Little Lies we know something happened but don’t know what happened until very far into the book. Unlike that book though I was able to guess not only what the horrible incident was, but also some of the shocking (well, not to me anyway) elements surrounding the incident. The characters were well developed, I felt like I really got to know them; what made them tick and react to circumstances the way they did. Some of the characters were so fun or interesting I kind of wish they would show up in another book.

It was an entertaining listen, especially the Australian accents, and despite knowing what was going on before I should have, the characters kept me interested in their stories.

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
Reviewed by Chris, Librarian, Bridgewater Library

The city of Bulikov, the most important place on the Continent, had the world under its thrall using the Divine powers of its gods. But three generations ago, the Kaj came and killed the divinities, and Saypur, a land that had never known the godly touch, now rules the Continent and forbids all mention of the Divine.

A Saypuri professor was studying the history of the Continent when he is suddenly murdered. Shara Thivani is sent from Saypur, officially to act as diplomat, but unofficially to uncover the motives behind the professor's murder. As she delves deeper into the mystery, she discovers conspiracy after conspiracy, and that the gods may not be as dead as the legends told…

The story is mostly fast-paced, although it drags somewhat in the middle. Recommended for those who enjoy their suspenseful fantasy a bit on the darker side.

Friday, January 6, 2017

The North Water by Ian McGuire

The North Water by Ian McGuire

This was a dark way to read in the new year!  But it made the sudden drop in temperature here seem pleasant compared to what the characters in this tale experienced.

Patrick Sumner, a surgeon wanting to escape his past in the military service in India, signs up aboard the Volunteer, a whaling ship heading from Britain into the north waters.  The captain lost a ship to the ice the previous season so the crew he is able to assemble can best be described as ragtag.  Once underway things seem to be going well, until they aren’t.  A man is murdered, the ship has foundered, and every time you think it can’t get any worse, something worse happens.

Most arctic misadventures are survival tales but there is much more to this book.  This is one man’s battles against nature, himself, business and other people.  Can one man survive against all these forces?  As cold and cruel as this book was there are bright spots and the ending left me with a bittersweet smile.

A Man Called Ove (Foreign Film -- Swedish)

A Man Called Ove (Foreign Film -- Swedish)

Ove is a cranky gentleman who just wants to be with his wife, but his neighbors keep interrupting his plans…

For those who have read the book you’re probably nodding and smiling to yourself after reading that sentence.  For those who haven’t, what are you waiting for?  You can get a great introduction to Ove in the new movie.  While of course the entire book is not up there on the screen, it is still very enjoyable.  I was a little nervous to watch the movie since I adore the book, but it is a great adaptation.  I will admit I’m a little disappointed that the Cat Annoyance is never referred to by name in the movie, but I’ll get over it.