Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Camp So-and So by Mary McCoy

The cover of this novel immediately drew me in and I could tell that it would be an entertaining and mysterious story. The description also intrigued me as it described a camp that apparently doesnt actually exist yet letters were sent out that included pictures of teens rock climbing, playing sports, and having a wonderful time at a lakeside camp. What is this camp and why are they inviting teens to come stay? Who is the person who created this camp and what are their intentions?

The author tells the story through several voices and each of the five camp cabins has a completely different story and they all intersect at certain points. It can be confusing deciphering between the stories but it adds to the mystery of what is actually happening to these campers. Every type of typical teen character can be found in this book which gives a variety of emotions and views on what is happening.

Not only do we hear the stories of each of the cabins that are located at Camp So-and-So, there is a secretive and luxurious camp across the lake from Camp So-and-So. Both camps participate in certain games to see who will win the opportunity to stay at the luxurious camp and the games get intense, strange, and possibly dangerous.

Written like a play and separated into acts, the story begins with introducing different characters from the cabins of Camp So-and-So and some of the cabins experience violence and difficult situations that create suspense for the reader. Tension is felt after the campers immediately start noticing strange things happening, such as a girl who disappears, horrible food that is barely edible, and accommodations that are barely livable. This is not the camp that they thought they would be at. The story starts to get intense after you find out there are stage hands and other adults who are roaming around behind the scenes.

If you enjoy camp stories, mysteries, or suspenseful stories, check out Camp So-and-So from the teen room today. You will stay up all night trying to find out what is going to happen to these campers. 


Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith

The Last Painting by Sara De Vos by Dominic Smith is a well-crafted example of multilayered historical fiction. A point-of-view styled narrative, the novel revolves around three main characters whose lives intersect with a forgery.
It’s Manhattan in 1957, and Marty de Groot, an “old money” patent attorney whose career seems to have stalled, has a staid life with a comfortable marriage (despite the fact that the two have drifted apart due to their inability to conceive children).  Meanwhile, in 1957 New Jersey, there’s Ellie, a young, isolated Australian grad student and sometime art restorer, who can’t seem to escape the benign disinterest of her parents. Their paths cross when Ellie is asked by a connection in the art world to produce a “copy” of a painting from a series of photos only, as she is told its owner couldn’t part with the original. Ellie, despite intuiting the lie, takes the commission.  The work, At the Edge of a Wood, is by 17th century Dutch painter Sara De Vos. Ellie, whose stalled dissertation is on Dutch women painters of the period, becomes enthralled with the painting, the only known ascribed work by De Vos.

Sometime later, Marty notices that a painting that has been in his family for hundreds of years, has been replaced with a near-perfect forgery. He hires a private investigator to find the painting and the forger. His search leads him to Ellie. Deciding to take the investigation into his own hands, Marty concocts a false identity, Jake Alpert. Under this alias, he arranges to meet Ellie under the auspices of looking for an art advisor for a personal collection. The investigation quickly turns into more, as we learn first-hand from both Marty and Ellie.

Woven into this story are flashes from their future in Sydney during the year 2000.   Ellie is now a respected professor at Sydney University, with an important role at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The gallery is welcoming a few potential works by Sara de Vos, on lend for an important opening. Soon three pieces of art turn up, two from the Leiden Museum, At the Edge of a Wood and an untitled landscape, and one from a wealthy American private collector, also claiming to be At the Edge of a Wood. Confronted with her own long ago forgery, Ellie begins to imagine the unraveling of her carefully crafted career.

As the stories of Marty and Ellie evolve, Sara’s own account of the painting’s provenance is charted from 1636 to 1637. After losing their only child to the plague, Sara and Barent de Vos fall on hard times. Penalized by the Guild of Saint Luke, neither are allowed to make a living by painting, nor sign any works. Working through her grief in the shadows, Sara produces the painting at the center of Marty and Ellie’s story.  Destitute and desperate, Barent abandons Sara, and their home and belongings, including At the Edge of a Wood (purchased by Pieter de Groot), are auctioned off by the guild.  In turns the novel reveals that Sara has been sent by the guild to work off a debt to Cornelis Groen, a wealthy bachelor in Heemstede. Sara begins to enjoy her time there, working on a landscape painting of a defunct town left in ruins by the plague. The work acts a tribute to her own grief and that of a surviving widow who lost nine children to the outbreak, and refuses to leave the town behind.

This book is a wonderful piece of historical fiction. The characters are so well-wrought and likeable that one hardly concerns one’s self with drama of the forgery until nearly half-way through the book. The audiobook is enacted perfectly, with just the right accents and tones for the tale. It is currently available at the Delphi Public Library in hardback as well as the aforementioned digital audio, via the Overdrive app.

-Jennifer Wilson

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Freedom's Ring by Heidi Chiavaroli

A brilliantly written novel which tells the story of two women living in two different time periods in Boston.  One woman is living in the 21st century during a time of terror--the Boston Marathon Bombing. The other  woman is living in the 1700's during a time of war--the American Revolution.

     The story begins with Annie Davis, or Anaya, who was injured during the Boston bombing.  She was rescued by a man who gave her a ring and a promise to come back for her.  Two years have passed since her rescue and Annie has always carried two things: Guilt and a ring of broken promises.
     When Annie finds out that her sister is moving, she quickly reconnects with her. During her visit she finds a business card with a familiar picture on it so she quickly pockets the card and goes home to call the number on the card, hoping it is her hero she held on to for so long.

     Miss Liberty Cadwell, a patriot, was searching for her brother, but to no avail there weren't any traces of him.  Liberty found herself homeless on the cold streets of Boston.  A lieutenant by the name of Alexander Smyth offered her a job as a housemaid, in her desperation she accepted the offer.
During her employment a problem arose, she grew very fond of him and fell in love.  The bigger problem..he is a loyalist and an officer of the crown, no less!
     During an uproar between the Patriots and the British Soldiers (Boston Massacre), Liberty went to aid any who had been wounded.  Among the wounded Liberty found her brother covered in blood.  Shattered by her loss, she knew she had to leave her place of employment.  With her mind set on packing, she quickly went into her room to pack and was attacked by the Captain, during which he took her innocence. Alexander, who tried to save her, was too late. Broken, in pain, and hopeless, Liberty took her belongings and stole the lieutenant's ring, the very same ring that Annie Davis possesses in the future.

     These two women, in their tragic stories, realize where true strength, forgiveness, and love comes from. It is found outside of themselves.  I highly recommend this page turner!

"It is not memorializing a soldier but the bond we as humanity have.  A bond where love and sacrifice can be used to purchase freedom."
Freedom's Ring

--Dani Green

Monday, August 07, 2017

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

Laurie Frankel has written a wonderful book about a quirky, smart, and loving family who is facing an issue that has wreaked havoc on schools across the nation, an issue that many of us don't understand and don't have experience with: gender dysphoria. What do you do if your little boy decides that he feels like he is a little girl instead? The answer for the Walsh-Adams family is: you do the best you can to make your child feel safe, loved, and supported. Isn't that what we all would strive to do? The problem is knowing what the best way to do that is. Penn and Rosie are the parents of four very active, energetic, and smart boys. When their fifth child, Claude, is born, they embrace and love him just as they did the rest of their rambunctious boys. By the time Claude is three, however, it is evident that he is different from their other children. He wants to wear dresses and put barrettes in his hair. In fact he wants to grow his hair long. He identifies with princesses in the fairy tales his father tells them all at bedtime. There are no easy answers in this novel; instead there's a conversation about the many ways people differ on all sorts of scales, gender being only one of them, and what's right for one person may not be right for another. I loved this family. They tried so hard to do the right thing for Claude, and the mistakes they made were done fully out of love. If this is a subject you're interested in looking at from a personal rather than a clinical level, this is a great place to start.

review by
Kelly Currie

Thursday, August 03, 2017

All The Birds In The Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

   All The Birds In The Sky

         Charlie Jane Anders

Dystopia - Science Fiction

Storyline - Intricately Plotted.   These books have complicated  storylines.  Often involving multiple plots w/ twists & turns.

Tone - Bleak.  Dark outlook, frequently devoid of faith in human nature & tending away from hope.

Character - Awkward.  Often unsure of themselves, these characters lack social savvy to navigate relationships & other interpersonal situations smoothly.  

Writing Style - Gritty.  Characterized by a narrative style that includes dark & unsettling details, these book often picture violence.

I classify this book as Weird!

The story follows 2 characters - Patricia, who is a witch, and Lawrence (not Larry), who is the epitome of science genius, building his own second time machine in middle school.  Strangely, the rest of this world feels like contemporary realism, with Patricia's witchiness and Lawrence's genius defining them as outsiders, often causing them to be bullied by classmates and punished by their parents.

The story stays with Patricia and Lawrence through their childhood and into their adult life.  Behind it all is the creepy Mr. Rose, a shadow across the story.  His unsettling presence brings a darkness to the story.   
Patrica as a witch, can talk to animals, is an embodiment of nature.

Lawrence, as a technological genius, is an embodiment of science.  These two seem like complete opposites, yet their lives are forced together, often at their unwillingness.

I would only recommend this book to science fiction lovers.  I, personally, did not care for it...I don't even like science fiction movies!!!!   Well, maybe ET!

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant is the story of a single, friendless and very solitary soul who has worked for a decade in the finance department of a design firm in Scotland.

A mysterious childhood accident has left a portion of her face scarred, and one is well aware by Eleanor's social skills and demeanor that the accident has marred more than just her physical appearance.

Her life outside of the office is extremely routine and guarded, nursed by vast quantities of vodka and pizza. Eleanor receives the occasional call from her mother who is currently imprisoned for a crime that is only hinted at in the beginning of this book.

Her mother, controlling and manipulative even from her confines continues to wreck Eleanor's self-esteem with her sharp and hurtful phone conversations.

When a tech issue at her office requires an interaction with an IT man named Raymond, Eleanor reluctantly forges a friendship with this kind, very accepting and rather goofy young man.  Both funny and heart-wrenching at times ; a very satisfying read as we watch Eleanor's protective walls peeled away one layer at a time as she finally allows herself to be pulled from her lonely shell of existence.

Cathy Kesterson