Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Dodger by Terry Pratchett

When we first meet Dodger, he is as unlikely a hero as there might be: a seventeen year old who has grown up on the streets and in the sewers of Victorian London.  He makes his living "toshing" the sewers for the money, jewelry and valuables that have been washed there.  One stormy night a scream in the street above sends him to the rescue of a beautiful, young woman who has leaped from the moving carriage of her kidnappers, who are beating her in the gutter.  Dodger attacks them, saving her life when they flee.  This act of courage forever changed Dodger's destiny.  Two men arrive who help find a safe house where the woman will be nursed back to health.  Dodger insists on going with her to make certain that she is protected.  He knows a gem when he sees one and this woman is a very special person.  She refuses to tell them who she is and why she was being beaten.  Dodger vows to find the guilty men and bring them to justice.  Thus begins his quest and in this mission he meets up with many surprising people from history; Charles Dickens, a newspaper reporter; Henry Mayhew, a social worker who is seeking to change the horrid state of the poor in London's slums; Benjamin Disraeli, the calculating politician and the mad barber, Sweeney Todd.  It seems that once Dodger has acted heroically he can not stop his heroic ascent even to the court of Queen Elizabeth!  Only Terry Pratchett can weave such a tale with such believable  characters and high humor.  You will not want to put this adventure down!  Start your adventure with  Dodger today, located in Teen Fiction!  

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Standing in another man's grave.

As all the reviews trumpeted, Rebus has returned!  Ian Rankin retired Rebus five years ago, but of course he couldn't stay away.  And just like the old days, he upsets the bosses and gets his sidekick Siobhan in hot water.  The book begins at a funeral which makes Rebus late for a new job with the Cold Case Squad.  There he is approached by a woman seeking help in finding her daughter, missing for a dozen years.  She feels detectives have abandoned her and her case.  She has the names of several other women who have also gone missing from that same stretch of Scotland. 
This piques Rebus's interest and he decides to investigate even though he has no authority to do so.  DI Malcolm Fox of the office of Ethics and Standards also has his sights on Rebus.  He just knows Rebus is dirty especially since he has been seen drinking with an ex-con mafia bigwig.  Even Rebus isn't sure why Big Ger Cafferty insists on meeting with him.
Of course lots of bodies are uncovered, Rebus is thrown off the investigation and has to work on his own.
Siobhan gives up on the by the book boss and sticks with Rebus.  Together they solve the puzzle, and bring the perpetrator to justice.  Which is the way it should be, even if you throw the rules by the wayside.
Even though Malcolm Fox comes across as  a bit of a goody two shoes in this book, in the two books Rankin has written about him and his Complaints Dept. he comes across as a more complex character and quite the opposite of Rebus.
"Standing in another man's grave"  is dedicated to Scottish singer Jackie Leven who wrote and sang "Standing in another man's rain".  

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

KILLING KENNEDY by Bill O'Reilly & Martin Dugard

The End of Camelot

  This is a story of an American tragedy that changed the course of history.  John F. Kennedy in the midst of his 1963 campaign trip to Texas, is gunned down, resulting in national chaos. 
  In January 1961, as the cold war escalates, John F. Kennedy struggles to contain the growth of communism while he learns the hardships, solitude, and temptations of what it means to be president of the United States.  His beautiful young wife, Jackie, must also adjust to a life of constant scrutiny.  Despite personal and political trails, Kennedy's rating soar.

  At the same time, JFK acquires a number of formidable enemies, among them Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, and Allen Dulles, director of the Central Intelligence Agency.  When his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, cracks down on powerful elements of organized crime, the list of those who have it in for the president grows.
  Killing Kennedy explores the events leading up to the most notorious crime of the twentieth century and these events are almost as shocking as the assassination itself.  A page-turner from beginning to end, Killing Kennedy, chronicles both the heroism and deceit of Camelot. 

The Blood Gospel by James Rollins & Rebecca Cantrell

Although I haven't read other novels by these two authors, I was pleasantly pleased by the duo of James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell and their collaboration entitled "The Blood Gospel."

The cover and title of this particular book caught my attention first. I do love a good cover illustration and after reading the first chapter, I was equally hooked by its contents.

After a earthquake in Masada, Israel uncovers a tomb hidden beneath a plateau, archaeologist Erin Granger, military man, Jordan Stone and a Vatican priest by the name of Father Rhun Korza are sent to investigate.  What the buried temple reveals leaves them breathless and intrigued. A mummified body of a crucified girl and an empty sarcophagus, which at one time held a book that was thought to have been written in Christs' own blood.

The Blood Gospel.

And now that book is  missing and must be found.

If you enjoy thrilling fiction filled with action & adventure, vampires, a little romance and a crazy Russian monk, then this might be the book for you.

An exciting read!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Fireflies in December

For me, there is nothing better than a good read that takes place in the south. This might be largely due to the fact I love the way the characters can have that sorta free flowing way of expressing "the way they see it."  Fireflies in December, by Jennifer Erin Valent, is one of those books. This was Valent's first novel, and left me with no doubt that the author has a gift for telling a good story.  In fact, it was the 2007 winner of the Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest, and the 2010 Christy Award winner.

It is 1932, it is the south, and we meet Jessilyn, age 13. It is her birthday and a typical hot Virginia summer day. We meet Gemma, Jessilyn's best friend. The story evolves when Gemma loses her parents in a fire and Jessilyn's father and mother kindly take Gemma in to live with them as their own daughter. But Gemma is black and this is the south. Because prejudice is well alive and thriving, it doesn't take long for violence and the Ku Klux Klan to enter in, causing loyalties to be tested and forcing Jessilyn to come of age in the face of hatred and evil. Jessilyn's father, a quiet man of faith, is a strong example to his daughter how to be "Fireflies in December!"

Friday, February 08, 2013

Far From the Tree

Solomon’s startling proposition is that diversity is what unites us all. He writes about families coping with deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, multiple severe disabilities, with children who are prodigies, who are conceived in rape, who become criminals, who are transgender. While each of these characteristics is potentially isolating, the experience of difference within families is universal, as are the triumphs of love Solomon documents in every chapter. All parenting turns on a crucial question: to what extent parents should accept their children for who they are, and to what extent they should help them become their best selves. Drawing on forty thousand pages of interview transcripts with more than three hundred families, Solomon mines the eloquence of ordinary people facing extreme challenges. Whether considering prenatal screening for genetic disorders, cochlear implants for the deaf, or gender reassignment surgery for transgender people, Solomon narrates a universal struggle toward compassion. Many families grow closer through caring for a challenging child; most discover supportive communities of others similarly affected; some are inspired to become advocates and activists, celebrating the very conditions they once feared. Woven into their courageous and affirming stories is Solomon’s journey to accepting his own identity, which culminated in his midlife decision, influenced by this research, to become a parent.
Elegantly reported by a spectacularly original thinker, Far from the Tree explores themes of generosity, acceptance, and tolerance—all rooted in the insight that love can transcend every prejudice. This crucial and revelatory book expands our definition of what it is to be human.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

The Fault In Our Stars

Not everyone will jump at the suggestion to read a book about terminally ill cancer patients, but I strongly encourage you do so. John Green’s most recent fiction, ‘The Fault in Our Stars’, is smartly written, funny, extremely touching and REAL. Cancer is not so much the theme of the book but the vehicle that drives the romance between two teens. Sixteen year-old Hazel is a three-year stage IV cancer survivor and, upon her doctor’s suggestion, reluctantly attends a weekly cancer support group. It is there that she meets fellow cancer survivor Augustus Waters; tall, thin, quick witted and daring enough to catch and hold her gaze from across the circle of other attendees.  Their relationship, which moves along at a brisk pace, starts with a common interest in video games and books. Augustus’ taste in literature tends to lean toward sci-fi gore and Hazel’s current affinity is a particular novel about cancer patients. But the book leaves her disappointed with an unresolved ending and wondering about outcome of the characters. So August arranges for Hazel, her mother and himself to travel to Amsterdam to meet the eccentric and reclusive author. Yes, that sounds like an unlikely scenario but Green is able to make it all seem plausible. Because John Green writes so believably about smart teens that you buy into their use of advanced vocabulary, sly humor, and ability to make the impossible happen. My guess is that Green was a smart teen who grew into a smart man who then became a smart writer. An additional incentive to read this book is that Green, a resident of Indianapolis, uses the city and its landmarks as a setting for the story. So those familiar with Indy will have a frame of visual reference as you travel with Hazel and Augustus through their story.

Friday, February 01, 2013


Jack lives with his Ma in a very small place, which Jack calls the Room. She spends all day playing with him, making up new games to keep him entertained and active, and teaching him how to read and write and do math. Sound like an idyllic existence for a five-year-old boy? Think again. The reader experiences the world through Jack's eyes as he grows and gradually realizes the limits and terrible condition of his life. Ma has kept him safe, but "Old Nick" represents danger and evil from the Outside. When the Outside becomes real, and Ma and Jack escape from Old Nick and the small shed in which they have lived for Jack's entire lifetime, it's almost too much for the both of them. This is a gripping and fascinating read about captivity and escape. It is also the February book club selection. Join us for a discussion of Room on February 22 at 9 a.m.