Monday, April 23, 2018

The Gone World

This book almost defies description. It's not for everyone, but it sure checked a lot of boxes for me: time traveling science fiction, thriller crime novel, strong female lead character. It's a genre-crossing, roller coaster ride through time and space. Shannon Moss, when we meet her in 1997, is an investigator with NCIS who has been trained in the Navy's top-secret black ops Deep Waters program, which involves travel to and exploration of Deep Space and Deep Time. She is called to investigate the murder of a family, the wife and children of Navy SEAL Patrick Mursult, and the disappearance of his eldest daughter. Although Mursult is considered the prime suspect, Moss learns that he had traveled to Deep Time on a secret mission back in the 1980s, and his ship never returned home. So he shouldn't even have been alive on Earth to commit the murders. Her supervisors decide to send her into Deep Time, into one of many possible future time streams, to see if she can find any clues to help solve the Mursult murders. Another thread that is always a vital part of Deep Waters investigations is the fact that many trips to Deep Time and Space have revealed what they call the Terminus, the end of the world. The year of the Terminus seems to be receding closer to their own, real time, which they call terra firma (1997). Moss's travels back and forth between 1997, 2015, and 2016 reveal that the family's murders were part of a much bigger plan involving a mutinous group of Navy SEALs who know about the Terminus. She meets many versions of people she knows in these various time streams, and it's utterly fascinating to see how an individual life can play out differently in many disparate scenarios.The descriptions of the science behind time travel could be too much mind-boggling detail for some readers, and the violence depicted is not for the squeamish, but the story is brilliantly written, totally unique, and absolutely
worth the effort. You'll never look at coincidences and deja vu quite the same way again!

Kelly Currie

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The English Wife by Lauren Willig

   Set in the Gilded Age of New York, The English Wife is a plot-twisting masterpiece.  I would compare this novel to Downton Abbey or Agatha Christie's, Murder on the Orient Express. Each character is incredibly diverse in terms of personality, and the character development is remarkably done.

  Bayard Van Duyvil is a prominent member of society.  He met a burlesque actress by the name of Annabelle Lacey during his visit to England. Through their friendship, they fell in love and married. When Annabelle became pregnant, Bay focused on building a home for his family.  Bay was introduced to an architect by the name of Daniel and started to plan the re-creation of Annabelle's childhood home in England. The two spent countless amount of hours working together and formed a very close relationship.

   Annabelle persuaded Bay into having Daniel move in so that he could focus on finishing the estate. Rumors of Annabelle and the architect having an affair arose. When Mother Van Duyvil heard about the arrangements, she was outraged and demanded that Bay reconsider. Bay refused to let his tyrannical mother run his household. When finished, Bay and Annabelle held a costume ball for New York's finest to come and celebrate the occasion.  During the ball, Janie found her brother Bay with his dagger in his chest and uttered his last word "George", and Annabelle missing.  Bayard's sister Janie is determined to solve the mystery because something wasn't settling well with the incident. She forms an unlikely alliance with an Irish journalist James Burke and finds out more than she anticipated. Recommended for those who love a great historical thriller.

"I don't bother myself about gossip. What is it that they call it? The last resort of the idle? I am surprised that you pay attention to such things, Mother Van Duyvil." 
~Annabelle Lacey

~Dani Green

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge is a fun read set in the Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago where bartenders are not just friendly servers or mere mortals, but supernatural hunters tasked with protecting the city.
After Bailey Chen graduates from college, she moves home broke and unsure of her future. When her friend Zane hooks her up with a job at his family’s bar, she thinks it will be a fun and easy way to make some money while she tries to find a “real” job. Little does she know that the bartenders of Chicago are really unsung heroes who use perfectly mixed cocktails that give them super powers (super-strength, telekinesis, and more) to fight invisible beasts called tremems. But fighting demons is rarely as easy as it seems and Bailey and Zane soon learn that tremens are not the only thing out to get them. It will take brains, courage, and the mythical powers of the Long Island Iced Tea to save themselves and their city.

Fresh, witty, and entirely original, Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge is a fresh addition to the urban fantasy genre. A great read for fans of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series.

-       Portia

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Written in Love

Receiving a letter sent to the wrong address, Phoebe sends it to the return address with a letter of her own attached. From there Phoebe and Jalon become, more or less, pen pals. It doesn't take long before they become more than that. They talk about meeting in person, but something always comes up. Jalon becomes impatient, and decides to go visit Phoebe.

Phoebe and her son, Malachi, live with her old maiden aunt, who is very bossy and tries to run everyone's life for them. When Jalon arrives at Aunt Bertha's house unannounced, everything gets way out of control. Especially since Aunt Bertha has no idea that Phoebe was writing to Jalon. Aunt Bertha throws Phoebe and Malachi out of the house, saying how sinful Phoebe is.

With no place else to go, Phoebe and Malachi go home with Jalon. In order to reach beyond the errors of their pasts, both Phoebe and Jalon must put their faith in something or Someone, bigger than either of them could ever pen.

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Confusion of Languages

This is the story of a friendship gone awry, a culture clash, and the heartbreaking reality of unintended consequences. Cassandra and her husband Dan are living in Amman, Jordan, where he is a military officer stationed at the U.S. Embassy. They are childless but have been trying unsuccessfully for years to change that situation, and this has put a strain on their relationship and their interactions with others. Cassie feels unmoored and unloved and without friends. Into the lives of this couple in crisis appear Crick, Margaret, and their infant son Mather. Crick has been newly assigned to the Embassy, and Cassie and Dan are their welcome committee, tasked with helping them acclimate to life in Jordan. Cassie is a strict rule-follower, a no-nonsense person who strives to pass on her knowledge and fears to Margaret. And she is desperate for a friend, someone with whom she can share confidences. Margaret will have none of it. She likes Cassie but is a free spirit, and refuses to adhere to Cassie's (and the Embassy's) warnings about wearing moderate dress, going nowhere on your own, and refraining from talking to men other than her husband. While Dan and Crick are gone on assignment to Italy for several weeks, Margaret chafes at her "cage," and begins exploring Jordan and making Jordanian friends. Cassie's jealousy and her genuine fear for Margaret lead her to take action that ultimately backfires, bringing heartbreak and loss to all of them. Siobhan Fallon is a master at revealing the subtleties and frailties of human behavior. Highly recommended for readers interested in literary fiction, the Middle East, and life in the military.

Kelly Currie

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Eternal Life by Dara Horn

    I have often wondered what it would be like to live an immortal life. After reading The Outcasts of Time by Ian Mortimer and now Dara Horn's, Eternal Life, I am certainly glad that I do not. Throughout the book, Dana examines the very essence of life. Dana illustrates the extremes of parental love, and the downfalls of eternal life.

     Rachel Azaria cannot die. She made a vow to forgo physical death to save her son. Rachel will go through hundreds of marriages, and generations of children. She will see them live, and she will see them die. When people start getting suspicious, she throws herself into a fire only to find herself, eighteen years old, in an unknown place just to start all over again.  

     However, she is not alone in this eternal journey, the father of her first son, Elazar, took the same spiritual bargain. Although their relationship is not what I consider healthy, they do love each other profoundly.

As the years progress, so does science, and hiding is not so easy for Rachel and Elazar.  To make matters even more complicated, her granddaughter, Hannah, is a scientist who studies and manipulates DNA. She is on the verge of discovering how to slow down the aging process. Hannah notices that her grandmother is aging phenomenally well, and asks if she could have a sample of her blood. Rachel grows furious at the request, and turns down the offer.  Surreptitiously, Hannah took a strand of Rachel's hair and discovers that Rachel's DNA reveals her at the age of eighteen! Rachel has no choice but to tell Hannah the truth.

All I can say is, after 2,000 years of living, I sympathize with Rachel's desire to finally die. This book will take you on an emotional roller coaster ride. It is an exceptional read, and a real page-turner. It had me biting my nails in anticipation.

“the absolute loneliness, the bottomless homesick loneliness of years upon years of lies, the deep cold void of a loneliness no mortal can imagine.”
~Dana Horn, Eternal Life


Sunday, February 18, 2018

Hidden Depths

Another very good Vera Stanhope British mystery by Ann Cleeves, this book kept me puzzled to the very end.

We have four male friends who would do "anything" for one another!   We have two very similar murders!  Vera finds herself a bit lost when faced with the two murders.  Both victims are strangled, then placed in water and covered with flowers.   Both victims are young and beautiful, one male/one female.

While investigating the murders, Vera's team discovers some startling secrets among the four close friends, revealing human weakness and compulsions that result in tragic consequences.  

Vera can solve any crime but this one kept her on an uneasy edge. 
Well developed plot.   I'm a big Vera fan!

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

If youre a fan of horror, you cant afford to miss out on Paul Tremblays A Head Full of Ghosts. I have been reading horror novels for almost thirty years, and this title stands out as being one of the creepiest books I have ever read.  Using the voice of eight year-old Merry, the novel introduces us to the Barretts, a seemingly all-American family, stretched thin since John Barretts (father) lay-off nearly a year and a half before the events in the book take place. Barely subsisting on Sarah Barretts (mother) income as a bank teller, stress is high, but not unusually so, and the happiness of the family, while a bit frayed around the edges, is apparent. The familys well-being is put under even more strain when Merrys sister, fourteen year-old Marjorie, begins behaving oddly. Merry is the first to notice something isnt quite right with her sister, when the girls storytelling game takes a decidedly darker turn. As Marjories behavior becomes even more erratic and downright horrifying, the family is torn.  John Barrett seeks the help of a supportive priest, father Wanderly, while Sarah prefers to place her hopes for Marjories recovery in the hands of a psychiatrist.  After a terrifying incident, to which Merry is the sole witness, John ignores his wifes wishes and petitions the priest for an exorcism. Father Wanderly invites the attention of a television network, whose coffers finally fill the Barrett pantry for the first time in over a year, and a film crew is brought in to witness Marjories supposed possession and her inevitable, ratings-catching exorcism.  Family and film crew alike will get more than they bargain for by the end of the season.  All through the tale the reader questions whether Marjorie is indeed possessed, putting on a show, or simply suffering from a terrible mental illness.  At a slim 284 pages, with not a wasted word, A Head Full of Ghosts will keep you on the edge of your seat right to the very end.

Jennifer Wilson

Sunday, February 04, 2018

The Outcasts of Time by Ian Mortimer

 It is December 1348, and Devon, England, has been over-run with the plague. Brothers William of Wray and John Beard were walking home to Moreton, trying to stay away from the pestilence by avoiding contact with anything that might carry the disease. Unfortunately, during their travels, William's act of compassion infects both himself and his brother. William insists that he needed to go to Scorhill because he heard a voice, just the day before, that told him in order to save his soul, he needed to go. His brother thought he went mad but knew he had no choice but to go. When the brothers stumbled into a stone circle they were given a choice; they could either go home and spend the last of their days with family, or become healed entirely and live their remaining days in the future. William knew that if he went home to his wife and children they too would get infected--if they hadn't already.  Both decide to take the journey into the future.

    There is a delicious twist to this tale. Each day takes them ninety-nine years into the future. These time-traveling brothers see the year 1447, 1546, 1645, 1744, and 1843. With each time lapse, they are losing traces of everything they once knew and dearly loved. The author, Ian Mortimer, has done a brilliant job depicting humanity at its worst and at its best. An exceptionally written book, I couldn't put it down and was very sad to say goodbye.

"My lady, I have lived many long years and I can tell you that fairness is to society as water is to a duck's back. Society does not change because of fairness: it changes because it sees an advantage."  ~William of Wray
~Dani Green

Friday, February 02, 2018

Lucky Boy

It is no surprise that Shanthi Sekaron's novel is about a boy. Ignacio El Viento Castro Valdez is indeed a lucky boy, because he is deeply loved. His birth mother is Solimar, a young woman who discovered her pregnancy after she traveled--illegally--across the border into the U.S. from Mexico. Her trip was not without its horrors, those dangers and traumas that unaccompanied young women are often forced to face. But she makes a life for herself and her son, living with her cousin Silvia and serving as a housekeeper and nanny to a well-to-do family in Berkeley, CA. She fiercely loves her baby, whom she calls Nacho, and he accompanies her everywhere.

Several blocks away from the street where Soli works, Rishi and Kavya, a young couple whose both sets of parents emigrated from India, struggle to have a child of their own. Having tried everything they can emotionally and financially afford, to no avail, they decide to turn to adoption. They enroll in foster parent training, and then are given the opportunity to foster a child, which could perhaps lead to adoption.

Even though readers can easily anticipate the juncture at which Soli's and Kavya's paths will cross, it is still painful and heart-breaking to see it happen. A simple traffic stop turns Soli's life upside down, as she is sentenced to a detention center and prepared for deportation. Nacho, whom Kavya and Rishi come to call Iggy, meets a second Mama who loves him nearly as deeply as Soli does.

This is a wonderful story that explores complicated issues of love and belonging in the framework of the current state of immigration policies in the U.S. Highly recommended!

--review by Kelly Currie

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Power by Naomi Alderman

In the not-too-distant future, young girls around the world develop the ability to send electricity through their fingertips. This charge can be as light as a static electric shock or strong enough to kill. It is soon discovered that girls can awaken this power in older women, and the world changes almost overnight. The Power follows the stories of four people living through this tumultuous time. Roxy, the daughter of an English mob boss, uses her power to fend off home invaders and soon becomes embroiled in the family business; Allie, an American teen, fights off her abusive foster father and runs away to a convent; Margot, an American politician, must hide her power as new laws make it illegal for women with the power to work in government; and Tunde a Nigerian journalist who travels the world recording and reporting on what he sees. As scientists look for answers, governments try to maintain the status quo and women take to the streets to overturn slights both personal and institutional. Vigilante groups rise up, riots break out around the globe, and women take by force the power that has often been denied and used against them.

The Power provokes its readers to question stereotypes, gender dynamics, and what it means to have power. But don’t expect Alderman to hand out easy answers; she is clearly more interested in sparking conversation and self-reflection, which she accomplishes with aplomb. This is a book that begs to be devoured, passed on to friends and acquaintances, and dissected and discussed at length.

-Portia Kapraun

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Artemis by Andy Weir

    In this sci-fi thriller, Jasmine Bashara moved to the moon with her father at the age of 6. Jazz, a defiant, self-educated woman, grows up to be a porter and along with that, dreams to become filthy rich. With the meager pay of a porter, she also smuggles contraband on the side.

    Her dreams of wealth are what ultimately put her life in danger. A wealthy and ruthless businessman makes a proposition that she cannot refuse--well, that she reluctantly accepts. With this heist, she entangles herself in a situation that ends up getting her boss killed and her hunted. Her intellect and knowledge are the only way to survive. This book is definitely a page-turner.  If you like sci-fi with a dash of banter, pick up this book.

"We're going to be rich, buddy. Filthy rich.---And besides, who doesn't want to come to Artemis?  It's the greatest little city in the worlds." -Jazz

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Carnegie's Maid

This story takes place in the years 1863 through 1900. Clara Kelley is sent across the Atlantic from Ireland to America by her parents. She is to go to Pennsylvania to live with a cousin and find work, so that she can send money back home. Upon landing in New York, no one is waiting for her as she sees other passengers fall into the arms of waiting relatives. She walks on. She hears her name being called out. She follows the voice. IT belongs to a tall man wearing a bowler hat and topcoat finer than she has ever seen. "Clara Kelley, are you?" he asks. "Yes, sir," she replies. He informs her that he is to take her to Mrs. Seeley, who trains young girls to be hired out as maids.

The "Clara Kelley" for whom the man was looking never made it off the ship. Clara knew she had a choice to make in that moment. She could tell the man the truth, or she could become that other "Clara Kelley," get a ride to Pennsylvania, and have a job waiting for her. As you might guess, she chooses the latter. Once in Pennsylvania, she meets the mistress, Mrs. Carnegie, to whom she will be a lady's maid.

After several months she becomes very good friends with Carnegie's oldest son, Andrew, who is a very successful businessman. As their friendship grows, they also become silent business partners.  Clara becomes very wealthy from her understanding of the business.

I really enjoyed reading this book for its history of immigrants and the establishment of the first Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh. Andrew Carnegie went on to fund more than 2,500 libraries in America, one of which is the Delphi Public Library!


Monday, January 15, 2018

Sunday Silence

Nicci French is the pseudonym of Nicci Gerard and Sean French, a husband and wife writing team from Suffolk England.  This  is their seventh Frieda Klein novel and follows Dark Saturday.  Frieda is a psychologist and resides in London where she has a strong group of friends whom she considers her family and she often gets involved in helping the police with murder cases.  Since the beginning she has been literally haunted by a murderer named Dean Reeve.  Dean is supposedly dead, but Frieda believes he is still alive and is aware of her every move.  He has committed arson and murder against her enemies and to stop her from searching for him.
This novel begins with the murder of a private detective she had hired to find Dean Reeve.  He must have gotten close, because Dean killed him and buried the body under her floorboards in her home.  Shortly thereafter, her niece is kidnapped, drugged and held for a weekend in an unknown place, and then her friend, Ruben is beaten almost to death.  She blames Dean Reeve for these incidents.  When her friend Josef's son is briefly kidnapped and then returned unharmed, he repeats several times to Frieda "This is me look somewhere else".  She finally realizes, this is a message from Dean and he is saying he is not responsible for the the kidnapping of her niece or the beating of Ruben.  This can only mean that a copycat is involved.
A new detective is assigned to the case but fails to find the perpetrator.  Frieda must do what she can to protect her friends and family.  This was supposed to be the end of the series, where she deals with Dean Reeve.  Cleverly the writers instead send her on a quest to find a copycat who is as ruthless and murderous as the murderer he is enthralled with.