Thursday, December 13, 2018

My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite


Korede is a hard-working, reliable nurse in Logos, Nigeria. Her sister Ayoola is selfish, beautiful, and has a habit of disposing of boyfriends in a very permanent way. When Ayoola calls Korede to come help her dispose of the body of her latest boyfriend, Korede tells herself this is the last time she cover up for her sister even as she is bleaching the bathroom tiles. It’s not just the physical clean-up, though. Korede has to monitor Ayoola’s social media posts to ensure she maintains the image of a woman mourning the loss of her “missing” boyfriend.

Korede sees her workplace as the refuge from the rest of her life where her smarts and competence will always be eclipsed by Ayoola’s beauty. At the hospital she is respected and valued for the work she does, and she just knows that the handsome Doctor Tade she works with will soon realize that they are a perfect match. When Ayoola shows up at the hospital, everything goes wrong. Tade is immediately smitten with Ayoola, and Ayoola loves the attention she receives from the handsome and wealthy doctor. Korede must decide whether she should warn Tade, try to stop Ayoola, or stand back and hope for the best.

I picked this book up expecting a thriller about a female serial killer, a novel topic but not entirely groundbreaking. What I got was a darkly funny and insightful look at sibling rivalry, love, gender roles, and Nigerian politics. I couldn’t put it down!

-Portia Kapraun

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Sea Queen by Linnea Hartsuyk


Linnea Hartsuyker follows up her 2018 Reading List Award winner, The Half-Drowned King, with another brilliantly written historical novel set in 9th-century Scandinavia. Instead of Ragnvald being the nucleus of the story, the spotlight shifts to his sister Svanhild. If you have not read The Half-Drowned King, it is a tale of uneasy alliances, wars, betrayal, and very rich detail of the inner workings of how Norway came to be.

The Sea Queen is set six years later, and with the passage of time, each character has become more wise, cunning, and cruel. Svanhild marries Solvi, Ragnvald's betrayer, and sails to distant parts of the sea. However, when she gives birth to their son, she becomes torn between supporting her husband in his ambitions (conquering Harald and Ragnvald) and seeking a home for her son. When she is forced to abandon her motherly instinct, it causes the death of her son. Hurt and outraged by her husband's cold reaction, she runs away and finds refuge in her brother, Ragnvald.

This story is a collection of  petty minor kings who have their own view of how Norway should be ruled. Ragnvald, Harald, and Solvi are cruel manipulators, and their rebelliousness is steering them into a full-blown war. Svanhild, just as cunning and wise as the men, outsmarts them all and wins the war for Harald. This is an action-packed novel where Svanhild becomes an independent woman. Linnea's final book in this trilogy, The Golden Wolf, comes out in 2019.

"Forgive me, Ragnvald," she said. "Svanhild, don't," he said. Svanhild ignored him and stepped close to Solvi. She touched his cheek, and that smile faded into a raw expression of longing. "I will let you go," she said, "if you swear by Ran and Njord and all of the nameless gods of wind and sea that you will never seek to reclaim your land or any other land in Norway."
"You will believe my oath?" Solvi asked. The corner of his mouth went up, with an ironic smile that tugged at her chest. "Will you come to me, if Harald mistreats you?" "I will do what seems right," said Svanhild. "That is all." ~The Sea Queen

~Dani Green

Friday, November 23, 2018

Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah


In his debut publication, Adjei-Brenyah delivers a surreal collection of short stories that reflect the painfully absurd realities of modern society. While some stories read like a dystopian future, others feel much too close to reality. In “Zimmer Land” the narrator portrays a loiterer at an “interactive justice park” where customers mete out their own version of justice with brutal force and little provocation. The title story features a sales clerk in a department store who fights off rabid Black Friday shoppers as they turn the shopping holiday into a brutal fight for popular coats. I read this story on Thanksgiving, and found myself reflecting on it while bombarded by Black Friday sales ads the next day.

In turn funny and frightening, Friday Black is not light reading, but it is amazing story-telling. I cannot imagine anyone who can read this collection without serious introspection and reflection on the systemic racism, lost children, and broken justice system that seem so prevalent in the news. Booklist called it a “resonating wake-up call to redefine and reclaim what remains of our humanity.
- Portia Kapraun

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Lethal White

Robert Galbraith's (aka J.K. Rowling) fourth Cormoran Strike novel is the best one yet. It combines the author's skillful depictions of characters, a complicated plot, and enough heft to make readers dive into the story and not want to come out. At 656 pages, its size might intimidate new readers, but those who have explored the first three Strike novels will eagerly devour this one. Strike's relationship with his former assistant and now partner Robin Ellacott is teased along as the detective agency pursues a couple of new cases; readers can see that there is "something" there, but the attraction is not directly addressed by either character. This growth in the characters' relationship doesn't detract from the plot; instead it enhances the action. The story at first appears to be about one case (a possible murdered and buried child), and then swivels to a blackmail investigation of a government minister, and then twists again when the minister is found dead in a situation that appears (or is made to appear) to be a suicide. This book is a great choice for readers who like smart detective stories, British settings, complicated characters, and a mystery to solve. Highly recommended.

Kelly Currie

Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

   
Sherman Alexie has a knack of making you laugh even in times of hardships in this angst-filled book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. It tells the story of a 14-year-old boy named Arnold Spirit Jr., who lives on a Spokane Indian Reservation. Arnold was born with hydrocephalus (water on the brain), gigantic feet, crazy eyes, ten more teeth than normal, a stutter, and a lisp...not a very great start in life, but he manages well. 

Although he wasn't the most popular kid in school, he most certainly had a great mind. On one particular day as the teacher was handing out the geometry books, he discovered his mother's maiden name in it! He was so enraged by how old and outdated the books were that he threw the book and accidentally hit his teacher in the face. Surprisingly, the teacher didn't get upset; instead, he sat down with Arnold to encourage him to leave the reservation high school to attend a different high school, preferably one that is NOT on the reservation.

Arnold knew that the decision to leave the rez (reservation) would be a treacherous act against his family and friends, but he also knew that staying on the rez would be the death of his future. That night, he went home and boldly told his parents that he wanted to go to Reardan, a rich, white school just outside the rez. The only Indian found on that campus is the school mascot. Despite of this culture shock, Arnold figures out what he needs to do in order to have a chance in life without losing who he is.

Because Part-Time Indian received the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, it has gotten its own fair share of attention, being challenged and banned in many schools due to complaints about its "excerpts on masturbation," and "vulgarity, racism, and anti-Christian content." Others have claimed that the book is "encouraging pornography." In reality, it is a depiction of a young man's coming of age that feels true and sincere.

With a book such as Alexie's, we can enter into a world that we are not a part of and gain a better understanding of a certain culture or ethnic group. We can become more compassionate of others.  Importantly, this book can teach us that no matter where you are from, you can achieve anything. 


“I used to think the world was broken down by tribes,' I said. 'By Black and White. By Indian and White. But I know this isn't true. The world is only broken into two tribes: the people who are assholes and the people who are not.” 

Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian


~Dani Green

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin


This year N.K. Jemisin became the first person ever to win the Hugo Award for Best Novel three years in a row for her Broken Earth novels, and I cannot think of a more deserving series. This trilogy, which begins with 2015’s The Fifth Season, is a powerhouse of speculative fiction with amazing world-building and a storyline that is both intricately-plotted and immense in scope.

In The Fifth Season, readers are introduced to Essun, a woman on a mission to track down her ex-husband who has murdered their son and run off with their young daughter. Her plight is complicated by a “fifth season,” a major climate catastrophe that causes increased hardship and violence as cities crumble and ash fills the sky. Essun is an orogene, someone who can shape and control the earth, but has spent much of her life pretending to be normal, in hiding from those who would enslave or kill her because of her race. Now she will need to call upon her powers to protect herself on her difficult journey. Along the way, she comes into contact with a cast of characters who will help and hinder her along the way.

As Essun’s story progresses through the three books, readers come to know her painful back story as well as her present where she truly comes into her power, not just as an orogene, but as a mother and a person willing to fight for the future of the planet.

Jemisin is an amazingly powerful storyteller, adept at detailed world-building and a plot that weaves effortlessly through past, present, and future. Her characters are fully-realized, complex, and dealing with issues of identity, racism, oppression, and coming to terms with the fact that one person’s actions can truly destroy or save the world.  

This is a great series for fans of Octavia Butler, Margaret Atwood, Ursula K. Le Guin, or anyone looking for an immersive tale with unforgettable characters.


-Portia Kapraun

Monday, October 01, 2018

The Other Woman by Sandie Jones

Emily falls in love with the man of her dreams. Adam is perfect in every way....well, until she meets his mother Pammie.
Pammie is a very annoying type of woman who runs Adam's life and tries to runs Emily's as well. In Pammie's eyes, Emily can do nothing right. There's nothing this mother wouldn't do for her son, and Emily is about to find out just how far Pammie will go to get what she wants. After a while Emily starts to put up with abuse from both Adam and his mother. In the middle of the story, a mystery murder comes to the surface.  

This book is exciting and a classic page turner with a "what the heck is going on" feeling. You may think you have it all figured out, but the end is a real shocker in a very surprising way. A great first novel.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Desolation Mountain by William Kent Krueger

William Kent Krueger, award winning author, writes of two main characters in his novels: Cork O'Connor and Henry Meloux. Desolation Mountain is his latest book featuring Cork O'Connor.

This story takes place in northern Minnesota near the Iron Lake Reservation, home to the Ojibwe people. The Ojibwe believe this area is cursed. It is a popular place for hikers, however, due to the rugged terrain and gorgeous country. Many photographers also love it here.

When a private plane crashes into the mountain, Cork's son Stephen and a few Ojibwe men are first on the scene. They discover that there is a very important person on this plane, but before they can determine the reason for the crash, the FBI dismisses them and takes over.

Stephen O'Connor has had previous visions of something huge taking place and tries to determine if this incident is connected to his vision. The plot thickens as Cork O'Connor discovers that Bo Thorson, a private security consultant, is also investigating this crash.

Why the FBI?
Why the private security consultant?
Why excuse the Ojibwe people and the O'Connors?
Who was the important person on the plane?

If you find this novel exciting and interesting, Krueger has many others to keep you in suspense.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Aunt Dimity & The King's Ransom


Aunt Dimity & The King's Ransom is book twenty-three in Nancy Atherton's paranormal mystery series. (Although the book can be read and enjoyed as a stand alone, be aware that a ghostly friend from Aunt Dimity's Death makes an appearance and might intrigue first-time readers of the series.)

On her way to a well-deserved weekend getaway to meet up with her husband Bill, Lori Shepherd instead finds herself seeking refuge in the rural town of Shepney, England, due to an extra-tropical rainstorm. When she arrives, she meets former bishop Christopher. Having no room to house her, the bishop suggests an inn called The King's Ransom.

The only inn space available to Lori is a dusty and supposedly haunted attic without heating, plumbing, or electrical outlets. Trying to make the best of it, she arranges the room to make it a bit more comfortable. When she begins hearing strange sounds, she enlists her ghostly friend, Aunt Dimity, and the bishop for help in searching for their source. Their exploration leads them to underground tunnels that were used by smugglers during the 18th century. Full of history, mystery, and intrigue, this is a great book to cozy up with, alongside a nice cup of tea!

~Dani Green


"The cyclone taught me a valuable lesson, Dimity."  Did it teach you to check the weather forecast before you leave home? "Definitely!" I said, laughing. "But it also taught me to embrace the unexpected."

~Aunt Dimity and The King's Ransom


Saturday, September 22, 2018

Selected works by Jesmyn Ward


It’s always exciting when I find an author whose writing makes me want to burn through his or her bibliography like a dangerous fever. I grabbed the three books I could lay my hands on at the library, and dove head first into Sing, Unburied, Sing, I followed with Salvage the Bones, and concluded with The Men We Reaped. Each story is powerful and compelling, but as a body of work, they are a vivid testimony of growing up Black and poor in the rural south.
Salvage the Bones is Jesmyn Ward’s second novel, and a visceral snap shot of a family, which itself is a microcosm of the greater systemic disenfranchisement of Blacks in the book’s fictitious town of Bois Sauvage. Told over twelve days in rural Mississippi, and climaxing as Hurricane Katrina moves inland, Esch’s story will break your heart. Fourteen year-old Esch “grew up” (as  a child who has only ever known deprivation and struggle can) putting the needs of her brothers first: Randall (a serious basketball star, already proving to be a far better father to his little brother Junior, than their dad ever has been), Skeetah (who, while trying to “make them know,” ends up finding the love of his life…of a kind), and their baby brother Junior (a sweet boy, the last boy, the birthing of whom killed their mother). Junior, whose clinginess binds them, but also reminds them of how fierce and tenuous they all feel without their mother. Within this backdrop, while a hurricane threatens on the horizon, Esch struggles with a secret that scares her more than calamity.


In Sing, Unburied, Sing, we meet a thirteen-year-old boy named Jojo, a young boy growing up in a house/family that is haunted by racism, the poison of it spreading to each member of the family like a cancer, body, mind, and soul. Jojo is at that age where he is dreaming about being a man. And those dreams take on the straight lines of Pap, Junior’s grandpa. Junior, his baby sister Kayla, and their mom Leonie all live with Pap and Mam. When Leonie decides to take Jojo and Kayla on a three day odyssey to pick up her man Michael from prison.(Michael is, to a much lesser degree, their father. But Jojo learned early what baby Kayla is just now feeling: Michael has eyes and ears only for Leoni.) Without Pap’s imperious presence on the trip, Jojo feels unmoored, and worries that Leoni can’t keep them safe. Running both parallel and through Jojo’s experiences, are Richie’s. But the same eye Jojo turned so sweetly upon Kayla, sweaty and hot on a too-long car ride back from the prison, becomes baleful when it lands upon Richie, slumped impossibly on the floorboard beside him.  Well, maybe it’s not so impossible if you understand that Richie is a ghost that roams forward and back in time, tethered to a plantation that had many a PR facelift during its time. The owners may change in name, but never in deed, and those fields may now be growing Parchment Penitentiary cotton instead of that old slavery cotton, but it’s the same damn field. And the Black men and boys, rounded up for charges ranging from petty to imagined, as prisoners, may now be legally yoked to the field once again. The master/jailer’s face may change, but the same enslavement flows through and around time like a snake eating itself.

I finished my holiday reading with The Men We Reap. This volume of Jesmyn Ward’s memoirs tracks the fatal arcs of five boys’ lives. Stars that dropped right out of her family’s sky. Jesmyn begins her telling with the freshest loss, family friend, Demon Cook. Cook was the boy from an unbroken family, a dedicated provider and conscientious neighbor, who was murdered on his front lawn. A crime still unsolved. He was preceded in death by Charles Joseph Martin, a lithe acrobatic marvel and chivalrous and beloved cousin. Death came calling next for Ronald Way Lizana, a dazzling and charming friend; and lastly, Jesmyn discusses the loss of her little brother, Joshua Adam Dedeaux. Alternating with each heartbreaking memorial, are autobiographical chapters chronicling the history of Jesmyn and her family. She paints a bleak picture of what a young boy can expect when he’s young, Black, and poor in rural America. She describes in haunting detail what it looked like when the light dimmed in the eyes of a brother, a friend, or a loved one as they realized, with their eyes wide open, that the American Dream isn’t an option for every sleeper.

Reviews by Jennifer Wilson
wilsonj@delphilibrary.org

Friday, September 21, 2018

Gold Dust Woman: the Biography of Stevie Nicks

If you're a fan of seventies and eighties music and the bands of those particular decades, then you're sure to enjoy the latest biography about Stevie Nicks.

Author Stephen Davis delves into Stevie's early years as well as her present :

Of living with parents in the Southwest to her move to California where she began writing songs.

Meeting guitarist Lindsay Buckingham and collaborating with him to create the duo Buckingham Nicks.

Joining the English band Fleetwood Mac and experiencing immediate stardom after doing so.

And then later embarking on a solo career after musical differences and personal conflict take a toll on the band.

Cathy Kesterson

Monday, September 17, 2018

There, There



I could find no fault with this debut novel by Tommy Orange, other than I didn’t want it to end. Orange weaves the personal stories of several Native American Indians who live now or grew up in Oakland, California. He covers many of the problems faced by Indians trying to make it in today’s world. Trying to connect with their heritage. Trying to not drink so much. Trying to find family. Trying to just stay alive. Each small chapter is told from the perspective of one character, but through their stories we begin to understand everyone else’s. Tension builds, clues are dropped, and readers know that something dreadful will happen. Everything comes to a head at the Oakland Powwow. Orange is a truly amazing storyteller. I am already impatient for him to write more. Highly recommended to readers who like Louise Erdrich.

~Kelly Currie

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Abandoned

Abandoned by Allison Brennan

Investigative reporter Max Revere was abandoned by her mother Martha at the young age of nine. Leaving Max with her own parents, whom Max had never met, Martha sends only periodic postcards. Years later, the postcards have stopped coming, and Max decides to start investigating what really happened to her mother. She learns that Martha was all-in for fun and had become involved with an art thief and con man who had stolen from another art thief. Martha's postcards have provided clues of the missing art, along with information that led up to Martha's disappearance.

A lot of deep dark secrets begin to surface. The author will not disappoint you in this fast reading mystery.


Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Great Believers

Rebecca Makkai opens her tremendous new novel with a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald: "We were the great believers. I have never cared for any men as much as for those who felt the first springs when I did, and saw death ahead, and were reprieved--and who now walk the long stormy summer." The "great believers" of Makkai's novel are the multitudes of gay men who were caught up in the first months of the AIDS crisis in the mid 1980s. She focuses her lens on Chicago and introduces us to a group of male friends who are seeing their friends dying one by one. Because many of them have been rejected by their families for being gay in the first place, they have formed their own sorts of families and moral support. It's hard to remember now how much shame was forced upon and carried by gay men and women back then. Testing for the virus was relatively new, and even raising the courage to approach a doctor and take the test was a momentous decision. You could be fired from your job, harassed by strangers, evicted from your home, beaten up, or killed if your "secret" came out to the world. The book follows two alternating narratives, one in the mid 1980s where we see the world through the eyes of Yale, a young gay man working for an art gallery, and one in 2015, where we follow Fiona, whose brother Nic was one of Yale's friends and was one of the earliest AIDS deaths among their group. We see how the men's deaths impacted their friends and families, and continues to affect them 30 years later. A remarkable, sensitive, and personal look at a heartbreaking period in our country's history. Highly recommended.

~ Kelly Currie

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse


After a climate apocalypse that causes the ocean levels to rise quickly, most of the world is destroyed. In the Southwest United States, Dinétah, a former Navajo reservation, remains standing thanks to the help of mythological gods who have returned to Earth. The residents of Dinétah are scared, distrustful, and plagued by monsters that were unleashed when the waters rose. Maggie Hoskie is not your typical hero; she is a monster hunter with great and volatile clan powers and a difficult past. Her grandmother was killed by monsters when she was a teen, and now Neizghání, an immortal prince to whom she was apprenticed, has abandoned her. Adrift and heartbroken, Maggie sets off on her own on a job from the trickster god, Coyote. She’s not alone for long, though, as she grudgingly accepts the help of Kai, a medicine man with his own mysterious past. As Maggie and Kai set off on their mission, they discover that dark forces are gathering to oppose them and Coyote’s task is not nearly be as straightforward as he said it would be.

Trail of Lightning is Rebecca Roanhorse’s debut novel, and the first book in The Sixth World series. Her short story ‘‘Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience’’ (Apex, 2017) recently won the 2018 Hugo and Nebula awards. I have a feeling we will be seeing a lot more of her in the future, and I can’t wait.


-Portia

Monday, August 20, 2018

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier.

Business executive Georgina Shaw is arrested and charged with being an accessory to murder after the remains of a missing teenager are discovered buried in a wooded area near her childhood home. Calvin James, a man that Shaw was romantically involved with many years ago, was also arrested and charged with murder.

The victim: Angela Wong, a vivacious and popular teenager who went missing fourteen years earlier after an evening of drinking with best friend Georgina and Georgina's boyfriend, Calvin James.

After receiving a five-year sentence for her role in covering up the murder of Angela, Georgina is sent to a women's correctional facility where she suffers the daily humiliations of life in lock-down. Calvin James, now dubbed as the Sweet-bay Strangler, is also tried and convicted of murder.

Released from prison after serving her time, Georgia attempts to slip undetected into her hometown and live quietly with her father, but the situation soon becomes complicated. Bodies begin turning up and the manner in which they've been killed is eerily familiar. Much like Angela Wong.

Cathy Kesterson

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Her Fear, by Shelley Shepard Gray


The fifth book of The Amish of Hart County Series.

Sadie Detweiler of Ohio finds herself pregnant and unmarried when her boyfriend claims the baby wasn't his. Forced to leave her parents' home, she goes to Kentucky to live with relatives she doesn't know. A bit strange, they are, due to a dark illegal secret.

When her elderly aunt become mysteriously ill, 911 is called, and Sadie meets, Noah, an Amish EMT. Noah can't understand how a sweet girl like Sadie ended up sleeping on a cot in the kitchen.
Sadie seems terrified of something. Concerned, he decides to check up on her, and they become friends. When her aunt later dies at the hospital, and two more mysterious deaths follow, Noah's boss asks him to dig around the Amish community for clues. He agrees, for Sadie's sake. Many secrets begin to pop out of the walls at the home in which Sadie is staying, plus a few others.

I enjoyed the characters and the roles they played. Always a happy ending. Looking forward to the next book in this series. 

Monday, August 13, 2018

A Most Noble Heir by Susan Anne Mason





Meet Nolan Price, a stable hand who is employed by the overbearing Earl of Stainsby. Nolan, a hard-working man, has a deep loyalty to the aunt who raised him. With the money he earns, Nolan plans to purchase a farm, marry the love of his life (kitchen maid Hannah Burnham), and proceed to live happily ever after.

When Nolan's aunt falls sick and is on her death bed, she reveals to Nolan the identity of his mother and father. He is shocked to discover that his employer, the Earl of Stainsby, is also his father. Of course, it is forbidden to marry beneath his station, so Nolan is left shaken and uncertain about his future.

This story is about the struggles Nolan faces with family and while trying to stay true to himself and the people he loves.  A Most Noble Heir provides a bit of mystery and intrigue. If you like Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, you will enjoy this read.


Will gaining the world cost him everything he holds most dear?
~A Most Noble Heir

Dani Green

Breakout by Kate Messner

Kate Messner's book Breakout is a middle-grade-appropriate (5th - 8th grade) book about a prison breakout. It is written in the texts, newspaper articles, letters, and time capsule project artifacts from the point of view of three girls in town -- Nora, the daughter of the superintendent of the prison; Lizzie, her BFF; and Elidee, who just moved to town and whose brother is in the prison. Elidee has just discovered poetry and is practicing writing poetry in the style of other poets she admires like Lin Manuel Miranda, Jacqueline Woodson, Nikki Grimes, Nikki Giovanni, and William Carlos Williams. 

Elidee writes about being new to town in a place where there are few African Americans, moving at the end of the school year, and how the move has changed her home life. Elidee is homesick for New York City after moving to Wolf Creek in upstate New York. Nora writes news stories about the breakout and changes in town traditions due to added security. Nora's little brother writes comics about how he's going to catch the escaped prisoners to help himself feel safe, and to feel better about his campout birthday party that had to be moved indoors. Lizzie writes about how the breakout is affecting her family and creates parody comedy pieces about the news coverage as national news outlets are in town covering the story. All three girls are also preparing for a mile race at the end of the school year where the winner gets to hit the principal with water balloons.  

Kirkus calls it, "A sensitive coming-of-age tale about waking up to injustice and where that knowledge can lead." The different formats of the story made the book a fast read, and I enjoyed hearing the girls' distinct voices as the town dealt with the added stress of the search on the community. 

Friday, August 03, 2018

From a Low and Quiet Sea

Irish novelist Donal Ryan's latest work is a quietly moving story told in three separate narratives. First we meet Farouk, a physician, who has just immigrated from war-torn Syria to Ireland and become separated from his wife during the dangerous sea crossing. He is morose and finding it difficult to adjust to life in a new and foreign place. The second man we meet, Lampy, is a grouchy young man who seems unlucky in life. He lives with his mother and grandfather, drives a bus for a nursing home, and has suffered a lot of rejection. The last narrator, James, has led a shifty, dishonest life as an accountant, and now appears to be trying to come to terms with his faults and crimes and to seek comfort and forgiveness. Each of the narratives is compelling and thoughtful, but seemingly unconnected. Ryan brings them together with a smash at the end. Highly recommended for those who enjoy literary fiction with complicated characters.

Kelly Currie

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Salt Lane

Although Alexandra Cupidi appears in another of William Shaw's crime novels, she is the main detective in "Salt Lane." She has been transferred from the London Metropolitan police to the wild Kentish countryside after ending an affair with a married coworker. She and her teen daughter have moved into a small house on the coast. Alexandra worries about her daughter who seems to be depressed and who spends hours on the marshes, coming home later and later. The marshes lie very close to Salt Lane.
She is not very popular at the Kent station. She is quick to criticize and slow to praise her underlings. Jill Ferriter is the young constable assigned to her, and she is smart and ready to make her mark. Their first assignment together is to find who murdered the homeless woman in Salt Lane. Found in water, she did not drown, and cause of death appears unknown. When they inform her son of her death, they discover she spent the night at his house, leaving early in the morning. Salt Lane is many miles from London, so how did she get there?
The investigation becomes more complicated as they dig deeper and find it involves illegal immigrants working on farms throughout the countryside. Of course, more murders occur, and Alexandra foolishly goes off on her own to investigate. I felt this was a big flaw in the novel. She is not familiar with the surroundings, and when she worked in London, she surely would not go off on her own. The book shows an interesting aspect about immigration--the farm workers who will work for lower wages and bring in the crops. After Brexit, the number of these farm workers will be greatly reduced.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Amazing Adventures of Aaron Broom


This book is short but very entertaining. It takes place pre-WWII, during the Great Depression. All the banks have closed their doors, and everyone's out of work. 

Aaron Broom, age 12, came from a wealthy family who lost everything. His father becomes a Bulova watch traveling salesman, who is in the wrong place at the wrong time when a robbery at J & J Jewelers goes wrong. He is arrested for shooting one of the jewelers. Aaron sees the police bring his father out of the store in handcuffs. Aaron knows his father is innocent and sets out to find the real shooter with the help of a new found friend, Augie. They trail all the workers of the shop, break into apartments, and do fake interviews.   And with the help of a lawyer picked out of the phone book, they are able to free Aaron's father.

One thing for sure, Aaron, is an honest young boy. When finding a wallet containing $75 in the gutter, he knows that the right thing to do is return it to the rightful owner.  Friend Augie is against this, claiming it could be food in their bellies and a place to live for a while. Aaron replies, "I'm no Boy Scout--if it's life-or-death medicine that's one thing. But when it's to steal...  If you return the wallet with the money in it, then your soul will be okay.  It's the one thing the Depression can't take from us long as we take care of it. I have this thing about my soul, that it's a good part of me, that it can keep me going or leave me empty."


Thursday, July 19, 2018

I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara


I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara is a posthumously published work from the editor of truecrimediary.com in which she recounts her years-long search to uncover the identity of the Golden State Killer. For more than a decade, the GSK terrorized neighborhoods and towns across Northern California, attacking single woman and couples in their homes. Despite countless clues found at each crime scene, the police were never able to find a viable suspect for the crimes. After the discovery of DNA profiling, evidence from seemingly unrelated cases was found to be linked through DNA evidence, but the killer still couldn’t be caught. The GSK went dormant in 1986, but no one could conclusively say if he had died, been imprisoned, or was still out there alluding capture.

It has been said that McNamara’s blog and articles about the GSK prevented the GSK cases from going completely cold, keeping the public and the police constantly vigilant for any clue that might lead to the perpetrator of these horrendous crimes. McNamara tracked down clues through thousands of pages of police records and court filings, interviews with police officers who first investigated and their colleagues now working the cases, and even went so far as to track down a pair of distinctive cufflinks that might have been stolen by the GSK. This preoccupation took a toll on McNamara’s life, however, intensifying her insomnia and anxiety and possibly contributing to her untimely death. According to her husband, an undiagnosed heart condition was exacerbated by prescription pain and anti-anxiety medication; McNamara died in 2016, just two years before the killer was finally brought to justice. In April 2018, just months after her book was published, police finally arrested a suspect found through tracking DNA evidence. While the story of the search for this heartless killer is a fascinating one, what makes I’ll Be Gone in the Dark really stand out from other true crime books is McNamara’s ability to humanize both the victims and the professional and armchair investigators who dedicated their lives to seeking justice. 


-Portia

Friday, July 06, 2018

Once a Scoundrel by Mary Jo Putney


Gabriel Hawkins Vance entered the Royal Navy at the age of twelve and faced many horrific circumstances. At the age of sixteen, he commanded a French prize ship, but when Gabriel had to face his grandfather, Admiral Vance, he felt terrified. He would rather face disease, cannonballs, and ruthless pirates.

Gabriel resigns from the Royal Navy, walking out the door to an unknown future. All he knew was ships and the sea, so he decided to be the commander of his own ship. He could sail wherever, whenever he wanted, and take only the jobs he felt like taking, with the larger the risk the higher the payout.

One of these high-risk jobs is to save a lady who has been captured by pirates along the Barbary states. His mission: negotiate the ransom of fifty thousand pounds and bring her back to England unharmed. (Fifty thousand pounds in 1814 is like $940,000 in today's currency--a kings fortune!)

This "lady" who needs saving is not the average, sweet, curtsying sort. Aurora "Roaring Rory" Lawrence has a reputation for being intelligent, beautiful, charming, and independent--which is what got her in trouble in the first place. The story focuses on the twists, turns, and risks that Gabriel takes to rescue Aurora, her cousin, and the entire crew. With romance, murder, bribes, bartering, harems, and a wicked sheik, Once a Scoundrel is hard to put down. Although it is part of a series, it can certainly stand alone.

She lifted her chin. "Should I go free and others spend the rest of their lives in slavery because of the lucky accident of my birth?"
"In the eyes of God, no, but it's the way of the world in which we live." 
~Once a Scoundrel

~Daniela Green

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Doc by Mary Doria Russell


[Cover]


I do not read westerns. When I picked up Doc by Mary Doria Russell, I had my doubts that it was my type of book. What I found was a historical fiction title with real characters interacting with made up characters solving a murder and trying their best to make a living in the town of Dodge City, Kansas.

What I thought I knew about Doc Holliday was no more than the typical legends of the OK Corral. This book goes into the story of Doc before the famous gun fight. It tells of the Southern gentleman, the piano player, the dentist, the gambler, the man with tuberculosis and the good friend. During one particularly big fight with his mistress / girlfriend / favorite prostitute, Kate, he explains why he is a dentist in the town of Dodge when it doesn't bring in any money. He says he does it because it makes life better for other people. He takes away some suffering for others by helping them escape pain. Doc spends his days as a dentist in town and his nights gambling. 

This book is seasoned with many colorful characters including the Earp brothers, a number of women who work at the brothel owned by James Earp, and perhaps one of my favorite characters a man who was a prince in Austria but left to become a priest on the prairie, "For the rest of his long and eventful life, Alexander von Angensperg might have topped just about any war story told in a Jesuit residence. He could have listened, and nodded, and acknowledged each man's most colorful adventure, and then achieved an awed, respectful silence with just six words: "I heard confession in Dodge City." 

Dodge City was a rough and tumble place and the team of Masterson and the Earps tried to bring law and order to the town the best they could.  At the end of the book Doc Holliday, the Earps, and their ladies are heading off to Tombstone to see what the newly developed mining town has to offer. 

This was an enjoyable title that once I got into I couldn't wait to see what was next in the adventures of Doc, the Earps and Kate in the city of Dodge. 

Shannon 


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Things They Carried

The New York Times blurb on the front of the reissued paperback of Tim O'Brien's classic book about the Vietnam War reads, "A marvel of storytelling...a vital, important book--a book that matters not only to the reader interested in Vietnam, but to anyone interested in the craft of writing as well." O'Brien has told his own war story in fictionalized form, in a series of interconnected short pieces. It is brilliant. He says at one point, "If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted ... you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie." Many authors have written of their war experiences, whether it be in WWII, Vietnam, or the more modern battlegrounds of Iraq and Afghanistan. Very few of those have the ability to capture the nuances and make you feel the story deeply in the pit of your stomach. O'Brien has that talent. In a tender balancing act, he writes of the beauty of the jungle, the exhilaration of camaraderie, while also recording the brutality of war. O'Brien was not confident that our country should be at war in Vietnam, and when drafted, he toyed with the idea of running for the Canadian border from his home in Minnesota. He struggled deeply, thinking that running would be the bravest thing he could do. Instead, he says what drove him to report for duty as ordered was "hot, stupid shame." He feared exile more than he feared war. The bravest thing, in the end, was observing, participating in, and recording the mundane and the misery of being a soldier in that time and place. Highly recommended.

Kelly Currie

Monday, May 21, 2018

Song of Achilles and Circe by Madeline Miller


    Madeline Miller's remarkable way of retelling Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey was definitely bound to be a recipe for success. I loved every ingredient (element) in these books.  Love, betrayal, enchantment, adventure, jealousy, complex relationships, and a dash of vengeance.  This isn't your four-ingredient recipe that you can find at your local grocery store.  No, no this is a "magnifique" three-star deal.  Song of Achilles alone took Miller ten years to write and received the Orange Prize for fiction, which is the United Kingdom's most prestigious literary prize. After reading this enchanting tale, I had to read her second novel, Circe.  

   The Song of Achilles is from the perspective of Patroclus.  The book begins with Patroclus being exiled for killing a boy. He is then sent to Phthia to be fostered by its king, Peleus.  This is where he meets Achilles, the perfect, handsome, and fierce demi-god. The story continues throughout their teenage years and into the war with the Trojans.  When Patroclus poses as Achilles to save the demi-god's life, he tragically loses his own--in a gruesome, horrid, and agonizing painful death. Losing Patroclus plunges Achilles into a deep depression, and the soldiers believe he has lost his mind.  As the Fates said, the war will be won by the death of Achilles.

“And perhaps it is the greater grief, after all, to be left on earth when another is gone.” 
-Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles



     Circe is only a minor character in Homer's The Odyssey, so creating an entire novel about the sea goddess or nymph poses a challenge. The greatest challenge for Miller may have been to keep the storyline coherent enough for her readers. The novel spans hundreds of years because Circe is immortal.

     Circe was born more human-like than god-like. She isn't vicious enough to be a goddess.  She was an outcast and every Titan and Olympian made it quite clear to her. She did, however, possess a valuable power: witchcraft.  When Circe turned the most beautiful sea goddess, Scylla, into a man-eating beast and the man she loved into a god, she was banished to the deserted island of Aiaia. Throughout her life, she discovered relationships, love, and motherhood.

     Both The Song of Achilles and Circe contain themes of abuse, relationships, love, sacrifice, and dealing with one's emotions. Achilles and Circe had to fend for themselves and learn through hardships. I have to admit that as I was reading I fell in love with these characters and found myself siding with them, even though I didn't agree with some of their actions. Very detailed and gripping!

  "He was quiet a long time. 'You are wise,' he said. 'If it is so,' I said, 'it is only because I have been fool enough for a hundred lifetimes.'"
-Madeline Miller, Circe
~Dani Green 

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Flintstones, Vol. 1 by Mark Russell and Steve Pugh


The Flintstones, Vol. 1 collects comic book issues 1-6. It is an updated, grownup, dark comic, similar to the TV show Riverdale in style. 

Publishers Weekly describes The Flintstones as, "absurd reality that isn't much different from the original TV series-cartoon cavepeople living with prehistoric versions of modern technology". The same quirky shop names you remember from the TV show make an appearance here - Bloomingshales, Spears and Roebuck, Outback Snakehouse. 

The characters deal with current issues in sneaky ways. There's commentary on working one's self to death (literally - by dinosaur attack) for someone else's benefit. Fred and Barney are veterans of the Bedrock Wars and dealing with issues of PTSD. For Barney, his PTSD is complicated by the fact that Bam Bam is a child that was orphaned by the Bedrock Wars. There are also questions of the next war - is it worth fighting aliens who show up to Bedrock Valley or should the town wait it out to see what happens before taking action? The characters even deal with issues of marriage equality as protesters crash a marriage retreat to protest monogamous relationships. 

Publishers Weekly writes, as in the original TV show it's the "sweet characterizations that present Fred and Barney as lovable lunkheads whose sincerity often sets them apart from the rest of Stone Age society" that make this satire a fun take on modern issues. 

Shannon 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

The City of Lost Fortunes by Bryan Camp


After Hurricane Katrina, demigod Jude has decided to lay low as his power of finding lost things has gone haywire. In a city where so many have lost so much, he is forced to seclude himself from people so as not to be overwhelmed by their loss. He is pulled out of his six-year exile by Dodge, the Fortune god of New Orleans, to play a game of poker with the local trickster gods, the winner fated to become the new “Luck of New Orleans.” Jude is quickly pulled into a fight he wasn't ready for, a game he doesn’t understand, and consequences that will affect the future of New Orleans. When Dodge turns up dead and Jude is the main suspect, he finds himself neck deep in a world he couldn't imagine and forced to push himself and his magic further than he ever thought possible. At each turn, Jude becomes less sure of who he can trust (these are tricksters, after all). With such a complicated plot, this story could well-have gone off the rails, but I'm happy to say that the rich details and complex characters were well-crafted and imaginative. This is a great read for fans of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods or adult readers of Rick Riordan’s demigod series.


- Portia

Eternity Springs series by Emily March



Emily March describes Eternity Springs as a "world that may or may not be populated by an angel". The resident angel in town is Celeste Blessing. She's a guiding voice of wisdom in town and encourages townspeople to resolve heartbreaking issues in their past with love and friendship. At the end of each title characters experience personal growth to earn their "angel wings" in the community. 

Eternity Springs is a charming, mountain town in Colorado. Despite having an inspirational feel, characters in this series do have a tendency to fall into bed with the object of their affection. There's a Christmas shop, art gallery, inn and mechanic's shop in town. We get to know the various shop owners as the series progresses and as we watch them fall in love. Currently there are 14 books in the series and the series titles do not have to be read in order. The newest book in the series is The First Kiss of Spring and it was published in February 2018.  

Shannon D. 

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

~Dani


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