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.