Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on theTrain by Paula Hawkins

This is the book that I’ve hearing buzz about since the spring for all those fans of psychological thrillers like Gone Girl.  Yep, that’s exactly who would love this book. 

Rachel Watson takes the train to work every day and watches the houses go by through the window.  The train typically stops at the same spot every day and Rachel arranges her seating so she can look at this one house and see the couple who live there.  One day, she sees something unusual out the window.  The next day she discovers that the woman has gone missing.  Rachel desperately wants to help but events from her life make her hesitant to speak out.

If you are a fan of unreliable narrators then this is the book for you.  You can’t believe anything anyone tells you (and there are three narrators) because they all have their own perceptions of reality.  You do learn early on that Rachel has a problem with alcohol (a huge problem actually) but that is just the start.  She is a complex character that I found myself disliking intensely then warming up to as the book went on and I learned more about her past and present.

Place your holds now since this book isn’t being released until January 13th.

Helsinki Noir edited by James Thompson

Helsinki Noir edited by James Thompson

Finland is a weird place.  I love Iceland and all things Icelandic because of their “otherness” but Finland may even be a bit stranger.  Since this anthology was put together by an American who moved to Finland and has lived there for a long time he understands the uniqueness of the country and the things to emphasize that Americans would find odd.

Most of the stories in this collection are strong.  I especially enjoyed “Kiss of Santa” a story about an undercover security person working as a Santa in a department store to discover who is robbing from them.  “Stolen Lives” was simply hard to read because it was dark and heartbreaking at the same time.  The other entries are all quite good, even the confusing financial trading one that I was surprised I enjoyed, but there are a few where you can predict the ending but I think that would happen in almost any anthology to anyone who reads a lot of mysteries.

Of course this is a noir collection and Finland is painted as a shady, dark place because of the genre.  Doesn’t mean I don’t really want to go there anyway.

Compulsion by Martina Boone

Compulsion by Martina Boone *YA
Reviewed by Cassandra, Teen Librarian at Mary Jacobs

Compulsion is a compelling, emotional debut YA novel set in a Southern Gothic atmosphere and revolves around a young girl whose mother passes away and she is sent to live with her only surviving relative, her mother's sister Lulu in South Carolina. Barrie knows that her mother ran away years ago from her family home but does not know the reason why.

Barrie moves to South Carolina with little information about her history and her family so she immediately begins to investigate and learn about her family. She has heard the stories about Watson's Landing that say it is cursed but doesn't know the details surrounding the myth.

I could not put the book down. Each chapter had a new, unexpected surprise. The characters are so wonderfully written and just grab you and take hold. Compulsion took me on an intense and emotional roller coaster ride. The southern charm and atmosphere of the book was the perfect setting to go along with the mysteries surrounding Watson's Landing. Fair warning: it is book 1 in a series.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes

Apparently very few people saw The Princess Bride when it was first released on the big screen back in the 80s.  Neither the producers, the director nor the actors knew that their wonderful movie would become a classic in the videocassette age and become a favorite of mobsters, popes and presidents.  I was one of those few that did see it on the big screen when it was first released.  My friends and I all dressed as characters from the movie that Halloween.  I can joyously recite all the famous lines along with the movie and have no idea how many times I have seen it, but you don’t have to be a fan like me to thoroughly enjoy the book.

This is the story behind the movie.  You go behind the scenes with Cary Elwes as he relates funny off-screen (and on-screen) antics and stories.  Many of the reminiscences include Andre the Giant who was the loveliest man as described by all the cast and crew.  Most amazing are the fond memories from all the cast members, not just Elwes, who are honored to repeat their famous lines over and over again to this day for fans. 

To make this wonderful book even more wonderful (can you tell yet that I’m a fan of everything about this film?) the audiobook is read by Cary Elwes with guest narration by many of the cast.  Need a fun listen that will produce a few belly laughs?  As you wish.

A New Darkness by Joseph Delaney

A New Darkness by Joseph Delaney *JYA
Reviewed by Cassandra, Teen Librarian at Mary Jacobs

Thomas Ward from the Last Apprentice series is back for a new adventure in A New Darkness. Battling creatures of the dark is the job of the local spook. However with Master Gregory gone the job has gone to Tom Ward who never finished his apprenticeship. With a new monster terrorizing the county it will not be an easy task for Tom. Especially since the only person who seems to know anything about the monster is Jenny, the 7th daughter of a 7th daughter who will only share what she knows if Tom takes her on as his apprentice.

This new, exciting arc of the Last Apprentice series hooks in where the series ended. It is fast paced, full of adventure, horror and mystery as a new type of monster threatens the villages of the county.

The Good Sister by Jamie Kain

The Good Sister by Jamie Kain *YA
Reviewed by Cassandra, Teen Librarian at Mary Jacobs

The Fault in Her Stars meets The Lovely Bones, only Sarah’s leukemia is in remission and she knows who is responsible for her death. The Good Sister is a fast-paced young adult novel.

Sarah, the oldest of the Kinsey sisters, draws us into her purgatory world in the opening chapter. We understand from the start, there is more to her death than meets the eye. Did Sarah fall to her death on the rocky coast, or did someone push her? Only one other person knows what happened to Sarah on the trail high above the Pacific Ocean, and she’s not talking.

Rachel, the middle sister, and Asha, the baby, take turns with Sarah, telling the story of their lives, sharing their feelings for one another and their experiences growing up with hippie parents in a carefree lifestyle. Pieces of the puzzle come together and we learn of the shocking events that led to Sarah’s death.

I didn't love the story but I can see the attraction. Just a fair warning this is a young adult book with all the trappings of a young adult book: alcohol and intense relationships. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

That Night by Chevy Stevens

That Night by Chevy Stevens

Fifteen years ago Toni’s younger sister was murdered.  Toni and her boyfriend Ryan were accused and convicted of the crime.  Now Toni and Ryan have been released from prison and are trying to form new lives for themselves.  They are not supposed to have contact, but years later feelings between the two are still strong, and they unite to uncover who really killed Toni’s sister.  It seems that there are members of the small Vancouver Island community that don’t want the real killer named, or refuse to believe that the convicted could actually be innocent.

This was one of those very rare occasions where my mother and I were reading the same book at the same time.  I will admit she named the murder before the end of the book.  I did not: point to mom!

It was a good murder mystery, but I liked the whole sociological aspect of the plot.  An innocent woman goes to prison as a young adult and comes out fifteen years later.  What must that be like?  Forget the whole incarcerated while innocent thing, how did prison change her?  And what did she have to do to survive?  And how do you find a normal life after being out of society for so long?  The changes Toni underwent, and the way she suffers even after paying her debt to society were what made this book so interesting to me.