Friday, March 30, 2012

The Whisperer by Donald Carrisi

“God is silent.  The devil whispers.” 

That is really all I can say about this amazingly, intricately, heart-stoppingly, well-plotted thriller.  I can’t begin to tell the story because I will inadvertently ruin something that the author reveals so artfully bit by bit. 

If you are a fan of dark puzzling serial killer thrillers this is one that you simply can not miss. 
Calico Joe by John Grisham

I managed to get my mitt on a copy of Calico Joe prior to the publication date and read it in about the time it would take to play nine well-matched innings of baseball. 

This is the story of a living legend in the making brought down by a vicious pitch to the head.  We find out years later the turns the lives of both men have taken and how that memorable game changed the life of one young boy.

This is short little gem of fictional baseball lore that reads like a great urban legend.  It should put you in the mood to buy some peanuts and Cracker Jack.
The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey

This is a very well done modern retelling of Jane Eyre.  That said, having read the original a few months ago, I found this very predictable.  Which I know it was supposed to be, but there weren’t any new tricks to the narrative.  It was interesting to see how the storyline translated to Scotland in the early 1960s, it worked surprisingly well.

For fans of the classic, or those who remember loving it but not too much of the story.
House of the Lost by Sarah Rayne

Theo inherits the vacation home in Norfolk after his cousin is murdered.  He moves in thinking he has the perfect location to write his next book.  And he does.  It seems like someone doesn’t want him at Fenn House.  And it seems that Fenn House has a book it wants written itself.

Those who like their horror really scary, you might want to go to one of the author’s other books.  This is spooky not scary.  And it’s spooky because a lot of it is based on true historical happenings in Romania.  It’s sort of a combination mystery, horror-lite and historical fiction all wrapped up into one.  I was expecting a haunted house tale and while I got a great story it wasn’t what I expected at all.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Barefoot Season by Susan Mallery

Barefoot Season by Susan Mallery
Reviewed by Cassandra, Librarian at Mary Jacobs Library

We are introduced to Michelle, a veteran returning home from Afghanistan after becoming injured. With her cynicism in place as well as her very believable PTSD she is returning home to the Inn on Blackberry Island.

Michelle's friendship with Carly, her ex-BFF who is now running the Inn, is a complex relationship. We all have that childhood friend who we fell out of sync with for one reason or another, it just so happens that these women have an extreme reason for the abrupt end.  

This story is both simple and complex, there are many layers to these two women which Susan Mallery peels away in a way that only she can. Barefoot Season is a wonderful story of friendship and healing that fans of Susan Mallery will really enjoy! Anyone looking for a good contemporary woman's fiction should be sure to grab this heartfelt story! 

Summer Days by Susan Mallery

Summer Days by Susan Mallery
Reviewed by Cassandra, Librarian at Mary Jacobs Library

The 7th installment in the Fools Gold series is due to be published at the end of May.  Summer Days follows Heidi Simpson, owner of Castle Ranch, and wealthy businessman Rafe Stryker. An unexpected land disput brings together two very different people who are trying to save the family they love. Their hearts, home and family are on the line as we revisit the quaint town of Fools Gold. Characters from the previous books make appearances in another satisfying Susan Mallery romance. 

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
Reviewed by Cassandra, Librarian at Mary Jacobs Library

Shadow of Night starts exactly where Discovery of Witches ends. We travel to Elizabethan England with Diana and Matthew as they search for Ashmole 782 and for a witch to teach Diana how to use her powers. Along the way we meet amazing historical figures, travel through several countries and encounter amazingly well developed secondary characters. If you can get past the first 150 pages then this book is worth the major time investment of digging through 600 pages of story. I found Diana to be very annoying in the first part of the book but as she meets people who can help her and they continue their quest the story really takes off. I enjoyed many of the plot twists and the discoveries made along the way. This second installment in Deborah Harkness' All Souls Trilogy should satisfy excited fans. 

An e-galley was provided by the publisher. This book comes out in July so place your holds now.  

Monday, March 19, 2012

Defending Jacob by William Landay

Defending Jacob by William Landay

Andy Barber is the ADA in a suburb of Boston working on a case that has the entire community aghast.  A middle school student, who attends school with his son, has been murdered – stabbed to death in a local park.  Andy is looking at the alibis of local sex offenders when a new suspect is brought in: his own son Jacob.  With this accusation the lives of the Barber family and the entire town are turned upside down.

This is by far the BEST legal thriller I have ever read.  I really like the genre so I’ve read quite a few but I’ve never read one that combined court transcripts, investigations and family turmoil so well to such great effect.  If you’re looking for a compelling, not quite sure where it’s going, fast paced read I can’t recommend this one enough.

Born to Darkness by Suzanne Brockmann

Born to Darkness by Suzanne Brockmann
Reviewed by Cassandra, Librarian at Mary Jacobs Library

I am very familiar with Suzanne Brockmann's various romantic suspense series. She really knows how to weave a hot and steamy tale involving Navy Seals. However, Brockmann has changed directions just a little bit. There is a still a Navy Seal (Thank God!) but she has now jumped into the sci fi fray. The story starts off in alternate Boston. I am still not sure how the world came into its current condition but I'm sure I will find out as the series progress.

The main focus seemed to be on the prickly heroine Mac (Michelle) and her potential love interest, blacklisted NAVY Seal, Shane. In a world where most people are considered Fractions, there are a small percentage of people called Greater-Thans who have access to parts of the brain that others don't. They develop abilities such as telekinesis, telepathy and rapid healing. Mac has the power to affect people's emotions and physically alter her body to make her look unrecognizable. She works with an elite team of Greater-Than's who specialize in training those with potential and putting a stop to organizations that would exploit them. The other characters featured in this book include the powerful leader of Mac's team Bach, her partner Diaz and his love interest, the quirky scientist Elliot. There is also Anna, a Fraction who gets drawn into this strange new world that she previously didn't know existed and her sister, Nika who gets abducted by the very people that Mac and her team are trying to hunt down. Even with 7 points of view to follow -this is one steamy and thrilling ride. This is a massively long book but it was worth every thrilling second.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Pure by Julianna Baggott

Pure by Julianna Baggott

There are many books out there drawing varied versions of what the world will look like during and after the “end” comes.  The most popular version right now being The Hunger Games and the new North America it draws.  There’s a totally different picture being drawn in Pure.  A darker picture than many other dystopian books I’ve read, but beautiful in the oddest ways.

The end of the world as we know it in this series (and this is the first in that series) comes with a nuclear event.  Those not killed outright by the blast become fused.  Objects (or people) they were holding become fused to them.  Glass, metal and plastic that was nearby was blown into them and fused as well.  Pressia, one of the main characters, was in an airport baggage area holding her favorite doll.  She now has burn scars, glass shards imbedded in her arms and a dolls head fused with her hand so there is no distinction of where the doll ends and her fingers begin.  Another main character, Partridge, is a pure.  He was evacuated to the dome before the detonations.  He is unblemished and living a seemingly perfect life.  Seemingly…  When Partridge discovers that his mother may be alive in the world outside the dome he sets off to find her and learns more about life outside and inside the dome.

This is a quick read but a read to be savored.  There is a lot of description of the landscape, and the fused beings that really make you think and wonder what life might be like if you were them.  (Like the boy with birds whose wings still flap fused to his back, or the Dusts, creatures that fused with the earth and are not of earth or flesh exclusively any longer.)  If you like dystopian fiction you’ll really enjoy this. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
Reviewed by Cassandra, Librarian at Mary Jacobs Library

The long awaited sequel to Graceling and companion novel to Fire is due to be released in May. New York Times bestselling author Kristin Cashore brings back my favorite cast of characters in this thrilling fantasy series. Bitterblue is now 18 years old, the rightful queen of Monsea, and running her kingdom efficiently enough with the help of her advisers who urge her to forget the horrors of the past and look forward. But then she starts noticing that there is something really wrong going on around her. People act irrationally, they lie about the smallest things, and they make no sense. She ventures outside the walls of her castle, to meet regular people and to find out the real state of things in her country. Bitterblue comes across even more odd behaviors and crimes. She does her best to untangle the web of lies, puzzles and madness. There is action, adventure and even romance!

Be forewarned - this is a story with a very twisty, moderately complicated plot. The actions of the characters at times defy logic but this makes sense in the grand scheme of things based on the madness inflicted by King Leck. The last hundred pages, where some secrets are uncovered and things start coming together, add such excitement and suspense that it makes up for the frustration felt in the middle of the book. It is a seriously long story, but a wonderful addition to Graceling and Fire 

Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy by EL James

Reviewed by Cassandra, Librarian at Mary Jacobs Library

After hearing whispered conversations about this trilogy and listening to reviews on MSNBC and other news outlets it was time to figure out what all the fuss was about. At the time, the books were only available as eBooks but now that Writers Coffee Shop has reissued print copies I think this book is going to explode even more than it already has!

The nuts and bolts of the trilogy is the relationship between recent college grad Anastasia Steele and billionaire Christian Grey. Initially it seems like any Harlequin romance as they are the typical unlikely duo.  He is tortured and wounded from a horrible childhood and she is na├»ve, honest and caring. However, the story sparks and sizzles in a way that isn't found in traditional romances and has a deeper storyline than most romantica (the civilized rephrasing of erotica.) You are sucked into the turbulent world of Ana and Christian; figuring out what it means to be in a relationship alongside the drama of angry businessmen, insane ex-mistresses and deep family bonds. Read the entire trilogy - their story will stick with you long after you've finished reading. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

It is hard to believe that people work and go to school while living in shacks on the outskirts of a major international airport on land that the airport could clear (the airport in Mumbai does own the land) at any time.  These shacks are hidden behind signs for flooring which claims to be “beautiful forever.”  It is in this small slum, home to hundreds of people, the author spent three years of her life.  She interviewed the residents and went through local records trying to determine how their lives have changed since India has entered the global economy. 

At the heart of this story is the suicide of a woman.  She accused the family next door of provoking her to set herself on fire.  (She didn’t immediately die from her wounds.)  A trial is set against three members of that family in the local court. 

How people exist from day to day and hope to better their lives, the options open to slum dwellers (and those paths which are not) and the way the city works (corruption, the courts, etc.) are all portrayed in this book which reads like investigative journalism and narrative at once.

Absolutely perfect on audio.  The accents really put you into India and give such flavor to the narrative.

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

This stark, realistic and heart wrenching novel is about a time period and setting I have never read about in tandem – soldiers returning from WWII to the south.  For Ronsel, going home is bittersweet.  In Europe his tank division were hailed as heroes and treated as such.  At home on his family farm in Mississippi he is treated as less than human.  Ronsel is a black man living in the pre-Civil Rights south. 

Told in short chapters each narrated by a different character you really get into the minds of the people of Mudbound, the farm at the center of all the action.  The perspectives are each unique, and similar.  There are two farmers, one black and one white.  Two mothers and wives, again, one black and one white.  And finally, two soldiers returning from the war in Europe, one black and one white.  These six viewpoints construct the story to great effect.  Wonderful for book clubs and for those looking for some unique historical fiction.

British Bobbies and Inspectors

The Mysterious Mornings group met this morning and talked about their favorite mysteries featuring members of the British police force. 

Here is the list of group favorites listed by author and sleuth:
  • Alexander, Bruce (Sir John Fielding)
  • Bruen, Ken (Inspector Brant)
  • Crombie, Deborah (Duncan Kincaid)
  • Dexter, Colin (CI Morse)
  • Fowler, Christopher (Bryant & May)
  • George, Elizabeth (Thomas Lynley)
  • Granger, Ann (Mitchell & Markby)
  • Griffiths, Elly (Nelson & Galloway)
  • Grimes, Martha (Inspector Jury)
  • Harrod-Eagles, Cynthia (Bill Slider)
  • Hayder, Mo (Jack Caffery)
  • Hill, Reginald (Dalziel & Pascoe)
  • Hill, Susan (Simon Serrailler)
  • James, Bill (Harpur & Iles)
  • James, P.D. (Adam Dalgliesh)
  • James, Peter (Roy Grace)
  • La Plante, Lynda (Anna Travis)
  • Malliet, G.M. (DCI St. Just)
  • Marsh, Ngaio (Roderick Alleyn)
  • Perry, Anne (Thomas Pitt)
  • Perry, Anne (William Monk)
  • Rendell, Ruth (Reginald Wexford)
  • Robinson, Peter (Alan Banks)
  • Todd, Charles (Ian Rutledge)
Interested in joining a Mysterious Mornings discussion?  A list of suggested authors and titles are available at the Bridgewater Library and books will be on display about a month prior to the discussion.  (If you’re a voracious mystery reader you can read more than one!)  Our next theme/subgenre is Cooking Up a Mystery.

If it’s a mystery and the main character works with food or drink, then it fits this month’s subgenre.  Just keep in mind how the main character's profession affects the mystery because that’ll be a major talking point at our discussion in May.  (The meeting will be on Wednesday, May 9th at 9:30am at the Bridgewater Library.)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Lonely Death by Charles Todd

A Lonely Death by Charles Todd

The time period is what makes this British police procedural so unique.  It is just after WWI and Scotland Yard detective Ian Rutledge is a former officer of that brutal war.  He is a smart and driven detective, but a troubled man as well.  The trenches are never far from his mind.  To work through details of the case and his life he has regular conversations with Hamish, a man who died under his command, a man who only Rutledge (obviously) can see and hear.  Rutledge is haunted daily by the war in every sense of the word.  

Rutledge is sent to Sussex to investigate the garroting death of three war veterans.  Why are these young men being targeted?  Is it because of their service?  Will more victims follow?

A great pick on audio since the characters and their differing classes are distinguishable by the change of accents.  And Hamish, with a Scottish accent, really stands out.