Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve

Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve

Reviewed by Kay, Librarian at Bridgewater Library

Katherine Lyons is the pilot’s wife, who has learned to be separated from her husband, Jack, for long periods of time, yet feels strongly that she had a solid marriage with the man she loved. At the very start of the novel, Jack’s plane with 103 passengers aboard crashes and the investigation around this tragedy slowly reveals Jack’s secret life.

Katherine must deal not only with her grief but that of her 15 year old daughter. Plus she must accept the burden that Jack kept many secrets and was not the husband she believed him to be. The characters were appealing and the storyline keeps your interest chapter by chapter. It was a fine character study on how someone deals with grief and betrayal.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Neighbor by Lisa Gardner

The Neighbor by Lisa Gardner

Wow. I couldn’t put this book down. I’m now really annoyed that I didn’t start reading this author earlier! Gardner is the queen of the twisty plot and red herrings. I couldn’t figure out what was important, what wasn’t and exactly what was going on.

In a nutshell this is the story of a woman who goes missing. Her husband insists that she would never leave her four-year-old daughter behind alone. So where is she? Of course the husband is the prime suspect, and the registered sex offender down the street could be looking good for it too… Is she dead? Has she been kidnapped? Did she just walk out? This book will keep you guessing until the very end…

And, in my opinion rightfully so, this book is an award winner. It was awarded Best Hard Cover Novel from the International Thriller Writers in 2010.

The Secret by Beverly Lewis

The Secret by Beverly Lewis

Reviewed by Carolyn, Librarian at Bridgewater Library

Grace Byler is a young Amish woman living in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania whose mother has undergone a personality change since meeting an old acquaintance at a barn raising a few months back. Her mother has sleepless nights and has become withdrawn but won’t discuss what is troubling her. Then early one morning Grace’s mother disappears.

Heather Nelson is a young graduate student who has just received a devastating medical diagnosis. Having recently experienced the loss of her mother, Heather is unwilling to burden her father with this latest news. Instead, she travels to Lancaster County to seek alternative medical treatment.

The stories of Grace and Heather are woven together in this book, the first in a new series by Beverly Lewis. There’s a lot going on with the plot and it will be interesting to find out how all the story lines get resolved over the course of this series. Lewis provides details of Amish life that help the reader understand a lifestyle that is very different from the life most of us experience in the 21st century.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Matched by Ally Condie

Matched by Ally Condie

Do you miss Katniss and The Hunger Games? Try the first entry in the new series by Ally Condie: Matched.

All seems wonderful in Cassia’s world. She’s just turned seventeen and is off to her Match Banquet where she will learn the name of the boy she is going to marry. All matches are done by the Society, and since the Society is perfect, so are the Matches they make. Cassia is thrilled when she is Matched with her best friend Xander. Then she is confused. Why did another friend’s face, the reclusive Ky, also show up briefly on her Match card? Was a mistake made? But the Society never makes mistakes…

This is the classic dystopia disguised as utopia; people feel all is wonderful until they start looking closer at their perfect world. The reader learns about the problems with the Society as Cassia does, so the book has a very psychological and uneasy feel to it. The storyline is very investigative, as the characters try to puzzle out the world around them, but also paranoid and restrained in tone, because it would be dangerous to let the Society know that you know something is not quite right…

Predator by Terri Blackstock

Predator by Terri Blackstock

I would suggest this book to any older teens or adult who feels the need to convey everything they do on a moment by moment basis on a social network. This book will scare the daylights out of them. In this tale Krista, a co-founder of an inner city youth ministry, is on the hunt for the online predator that abducted, beat, raped and buried her 14-year old sister Ella alive. This predator followed Ella’s constant posts on GrapeVyne where she outlined her every move, including her fateful walk to the corner store for a bottle of soda. When another girl is taken, Krista teams up with the founder of GrapeVyne and the police to try to piece together how this killer is able to follow these girls, since they don’t seem to have any friends in common.

Krista’s faith is shaken by her sister’s death, but her faith gives her the strength to pull through and find meaning in her sister’s brutal death. While the murders are horrific, they are not over the top and the author gets her message of faith and internet safety to the reader in a readable way. Even those that are not fans of Christian fiction will be taken in by the suspense and the horror that builds through the story.

Deadtown by Nancy Holzner

Deadtown by Nancy Holzner

Are you a fan of urban fantasy and can’t wait a few months for the next entry in your favorite series? Then give Deadtown a try.

A while back a strange plague hit a section of Boston and the few thousand people there suddenly fell down and died…and a few hours later they got back up. Deadtown was created out of the quarantine zone that sprung up to house the newly created undead of Boston. Now it is the section of Boston designated for PAs (PA = Paranormal Americans) to live, work and play. Zombies, werewolves, vampires and shapeshifters living together -- kind of a strange version of paradise. But of course, things always go wrong in paradise. Enter our heroine, Victory Vaughn, shapeshifter and expert demon hunter. She’s got to deal with a teen zombie apprentice, a werewolf boyfriend, mad scientists and a demon that wants to destroy Boston. All in a Halloween’s work.

This is suspenseful and edgy entry to the urban fantasy genre. While it is a fast paced thriller, it also makes you think. The rights and status of paranormals is under debate across the country; PAs are considered things, not people, in the state of New Hampshire. This political intrigue, as well as the whole demons trying to destroy Boston, added enough substance to the thrill ride that I’ll be looking for the sequel, Hellforged, which is out soon.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean by Susan Casey

The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean by Susan Casey

After reading The Perfect Storm years ago the idea of rogue waves, anomalies of the ocean that can reach a hundred feet high, has always kind of stayed in the back of my mind. While on a boat in the middle of the ocean last year I warily looked around and thought, I’m safe, there’s no way one of those could possibly happen here. Well, after reading this book I’ll be scanning the horizon much more actively in open water!

It is shocking to learn how many ships still go missing at sea today. These waves are not only difficult to explain, but they seem to be increasing in frequency. This book explains the science behind waves, what the future may hold, and the people that love to ride them. Yes, there is a special class of surfer out there that has the skill to ride these giant waves, and you meet some of the legends of the sport in this book.

This book is a great mix of science and sports with amazing photos to bring the events the author discusses to life. After reading this book you’ll never look at the ocean, or a surfboard, in quite the same way.

The Non-fiction Book Discussion Group will be meeting at the Bridgewater Library on Thursday, March 10th to discuss The Wave.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Stalling for Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator by Gary Noesner

Stalling for Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator by Gary Noesner

Some say that talk is cheap, but sometimes cheap is the way to go. Noesner was at some of the most famous, and most infamous, hostage situations and sieges in recent history. He gives his readers a candid behind the scenes view of Ruby Ridge, Waco and the Montana Freeman sieges. He lets us know what he feels went right, went wrong, and could have went better. After reading this book you’ll come away with some negotiation tips as well as insight on how the FBI handles crisis situations.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Return to Sender by Fern Michaels

Return to Sender by Fern Michaels

Lin Townsend struggled to give her son Will a great life after getting pregnant at age seventeen and thrown out of her childhood home. She attempted to contact his father, but all her letters were returned unopened and marked: Return to Sender. Now, eighteen years later, as Lin sits at a welcome dinner for freshmen at NYU with her son, the man who ignored all her letters, Nick Pemberton, steps up to the podium to speak. He is a multi-millionaire and all Lin can think of are the days she lived on the change found in sofa cushions and the cardboard she shoved into her worn shoes because he wouldn’t acknowledge his own son. She wants revenge…

I’ll admit it. The plot was ludicrous. But I still liked it. The characters are endearing and the author does a great job making you like Lin, despite the underhanded things she’s doing. Nick also goes from ultimate jerk to an okay guy – in a way that makes sense. I would recommend giving this one a listen, the narrator’s Georgia twang for Lin and Bronx accent for Nick’s wife are right on, if over the top, and add fun to the novel.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World by Seth Stevenson

Grounded: My Down to Earth Journey Around the World by Seth Stevenson
Reviewed by Chris, Librarian at Bridgewater

Let's get the basic premise out of the way: Seth Stevenson loves to travel, but hates to fly. Flying, in his mind, is like a slow, hellish teleportation, where you get from one place to the other, but experience nothing in between. (Think of the narrator in Fight Club: you wake up at O'Hare; you wake up at LaGuardia; you wake up at Logan.) On what can only be described as a whim, Stevenson and his girlfriend decide to put their lives entirely on hold -- quitting their jobs, breaking their lease, and putting their possessions in storage -- in order to take a trip entirely around the world, crossing each line of longitude and the equator, without ever once subjecting themselves to the horror of air

They start the trip with only the vaguest of ideas: travel across the Atlantic on a container ship, and cross Asia on the Trans-Siberian Railroad; besides those two definites, the rest is played by ear. They use cars, buses, even bicycles, to fulfill their goal.

Stevenson is a Gen-X snarker, and spends a decent amount of time badmouthing his fellow travelers and countrymen; further, any language issues are mostly handwaved, so either he speaks 17 languages or just doesn't care. Finally, money never seems to be an issue for the couple; the exorbitant costs of some of the travel is simply written off, and the stresses of returning back to everyday life are summarized by "[she] got a new law firm job, and I started writing for magazines again”. Despite said flaws, I enjoyed the book. I like his writing style (I’ve read some of his magazine articles previously), and my eyes were certainly opened to the romance, as it were, of travelling via container ship versus the cozy confinement of a cruise ship.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Crimes and Passion

The Mysterious Mornings group met this morning and talked about their favorite romantic suspense books. If it was mystery or thriller with a touch of romance, it fit this month's subgenre.

Here are the group favorites:

· Sandra Brown

· Christina Dodd

· Julie Garwood (especially her Buchanan Series)

· Heather Graham

· Linda Howard (especially her older books)

· Lisa Jackson

· Karen Robards

· Nora Roberts

· Lauren Willig

If it’s a mystery, takes place in the United States, and is solved by a Male PI, then it fits this March’s Mysterious Mornings sub-genre. Just keep in mind how the detective’s gender affects the unfolding of the mystery because that’ll be a major talking point at our discussion Wednesday, March 2nd at 9:30am at the Bridgewater Library.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Sherlockian by Graham Moore

The Sherlockian by Graham Moore

If all the books I read in 2011 are as good as this one, it’s going to be a great year for reading! Even if you aren’t a fan of Sherlock Holmes, you can’t help but be swept up in the modern and Victorian storylines that intertwine throughout the story.

In the present, a noted Sherlockian scholar is found dead in his hotel room as he’s supposed to be giving a speech regarding the contents of the lost diary of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to the Irregulars (a noted Sherlockian group). The diary is nowhere to be found. So starts the search for the diary, and a murderer, by another member and fellow Sherlockian scholar. In Victorian times we discover the contents of the missing diary, the diary Doyle wrote in the months prior to his resurrection of Sherlock Holmes, a character that he despised. The tale involving Doyle, his good friend Bram Stoker, and murder is an interesting idea indeed. While the tale is fictional there is enough truth here to peak your imagination and wonder if it could all be real. (Helpfully, the author separates fact from fiction at the end of the tale.)

If you enjoy mysteries that unfold in the past and present, well-plotted twisty tales and psychological reasoning you will enjoy joining these Sherlockians for a while.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

In 2010 Harper Lee’s beloved classic turned fifty. I decided to read it again and it became the last book I read in 2010. I must admit, I was prepared to be underwhelmed, but I found it utterly engrossing. I enjoy books that are not what critics would consider well-written. I typically read for plot. In this case I was enthralled by her words and the simplicity and beauty of her writing. This is the quintessential loss of innocence story that I think everyone should pick up once as a child, and once as an adult. While we all could identify with the children early in our lives we can re-read it and empathize with the adults and how the “right thing” isn’t always possible in the framework of the world.

If you are interested to know where the ideas for this classic came from, I suggest you check out the biography of Harper Lee, Mockingbird by Charles Shields. It is amazing to see how many of the characters and situations were drawn from Lee's own childhood.