Tuesday, March 20, 2018
When Hari Seldon, a young mathematician, comes from his Outworld home to a mathematics conference on Trantor, the capital planet in the Galactic Empire, he has no idea his entire life is about to change. He has developed a mathematical theoretical concept that he calls psychohistory, which is an exploration of the idea that there could be a way to predict the future using math and statistical analysis. His talk seems well received and he is proud of his exposure.
But the next day, he starts to realize that his life has changed, unalterably, forever. He is whisked away to talk to no less a personage than Emperor Cleon I. Cleon has been quick to see that Seldon may be the answer to his prayers. With over forty billion people and hundreds of worlds to oversee, the Empire is too unwieldy to handle efficiently. There is always the possibility of entropy, of falling apart due to inability to handle everything. Surely, psychohistory is the answer to this dilemma. Cleon and his right-hand man, the shadowy Eto Demerzel, want Hari to develop his theoretical idea as quickly as possible so that it can be used to control the Empire and historical outcomes.
No matter how much Hari tries to explain that his ideas are just that, ideas, Cleon seems determined to make sure those ideas become practical, workable tools. Hari leaves with his head reeling. When he is approached by a journalist, Chetter Hummin, who offers to help him flee, he accepts and together the two escape. Hummin's first thought of a safe place to stow Hari is the famous University which has autonomy and from which even the Emperor would be loath to remove him. Although Hummin has to return to his own life, he leaves Hari and provides a helper. Dors Verabili is a female historian and together the two start their journey toward making Hari's ideas a reality. But can they do it before Hari is captured and forced to work for those who want to the power of his ideas for themselves?
This book explains the beginning of the Foundation world, the epic science fiction location that actually beat out Tolkein's Lord Of The Rings trilogy to win the Hugo Award in 1966 for the best all-time series. It outlines the famous rules of robots and the idea that things will inevitably, without guidance, fall apart over time. Asimov based the series on Gibbon's History Of The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire and students of history will see the impetus that work gives the series. What makes Asimov's series enduring is his ability to make likeable characters, create a brisk pace of events that could takes decades, and his overarching world building. This book is recommended for science fiction readers.
Sunday, March 18, 2018
It is 1893 and in England there is a movement towards science and discovery. The work of Darwin and his compatriots is discussed by educated people everywhere and medicine is starting to make huge advances. Women are starting to break free of the strictures that have kept them bound, destined only for housework and a life where even their clothes restrict their daily movements.
Cora Seaborne is one of the women who are interested in more than a marriage. She has just been widowed and is not full of grief. Her husband was a cruel, domineering, physically and emotionally abusive man and his death feels like an opening of the prison gates. Still in her early thirties, Cora decides to get out of the London house which seems like a prison. Determined to emulate the women naturalists she admires, she decides to visit the Essex countryside with its waterways and wild vistas. She is accompanied by her eleven year old son, Francis, and his nanny and her friend, Martha.
Cora revels in the Cornish countryside. She walks for hours every day, unafraid. She deserts her London fashions and dresses in men's clothes. She talks to anyone she wants and soon meets many of the Cornish country people. There is a rumor going around that a mythological creature, The Essex Serpent, has returned to sow destruction and she is determined to get to the bottom of the myth. Is it a creature that has never been discovered and might she be the one to do so?
Her friends in London worry about her and introduce her to the local vicar and his family. Stella and William Ransome are a young couple with three children who love the countryside and their lives. Stella is a fragile woman, beautiful and warm while William is deeply committed to his religion and to improving the lives of the people around them. He is concerned about the talk of the Serpent and how the rumors are changing the people and making them scared and more prone to falling back into ancient way.
When Cora and William meet, they soon become best of friends. Both are interested in the same things and both are addicted to long walks. They talk about everything and anything, although Cora has no time for religion and they disagree vehemently about this. It becomes obvious to everyone around them that there is more than friendship growing between them although they themselves seem not to realize it. How will it end?
This novel is a lush exploration of the time period and highly lauded. It was nominated for the Bailey's Women's Prize in Literature. It was an NPR and Kirkus Best Book, a New York Times Notable Book Of The Year and the winner of the British Book Awards Fiction Book. The characters are finely drawn, the issues of social justice, women's emancipation and forbidden love are explored in ways that keep the reader turning pages. This book is recommended for readers of historical fiction.
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
It's a routine day for Roland Mitchell, a scholar who works for a foundation in London that studies the life and works of the Victorian poet, Randolph Henry Ash. Roland is considered average, at work and in his personal life, where he shares a run-down flat with his only girlfriend, Vera. But things are about to change. As he reads in a book to discover the fact that his boss has sent him to retrieve, a letter falls out. It's an undiscovered letter from Ash and it is addressed to a woman who he's met at a luncheon. It appears that he was struck by the woman and wants to strike up a friendship.
Roland, almost without thought, decides to keep the letter. As he researches the luncheon, it appears that the woman must be Christabel LaMotte, another Victorian poet who is known mostly for her poems full of fairy tales and classic legends, and for being an example of one of the first lesbian poets. Roland goes to see an expert on LaMotte, Maud Bailey, who is actually related slightly to LaMotte, and who is fascinated also. They visit LaMotte's grave and while on a walk, rescue a woman who has gotten into trouble. She turns out to be the wife of the local squire and the home where LaMotte ended her life as a spinster aunt. While having tea with the couple, Roland and Maud are given permission to go see Christabel's old room and they discover a treasure--a thick sheave of letters that makes it clear that Christabel and Roland were definitely friends, if not more.
This is news that can turn the academic world on its head and make careers. As the two research further, they develop a passion for the letters and the story they portray. Yet, it's difficult to keep such a momentous secret in the academic world. Soon others have figured out their secret and the letters become involved in a tug-of-war between various academics.
A.S. Byatt won the Booker Prize for this novel and it is easy to see why. On the surface, it is a novel about the love stories between Ash and LaMotte and between Roland and Maud. But underneath, it leaves the reader swooning with the lush language, the references to legends and fairy-tales, illustrated by poetry from the two authors, and the slow love story that builds yet may not end in happiness. This book is recommended for literary fiction readers.
Sunday, March 11, 2018
Detective Napolean Dumas, known as "Nap", is stuck in the past. In his senior year in high school, a tragedy occurred. While he was out of town playing hockey one Friday night, his twin brother was killed by a train. Killed along with him was the police chief's daughter, Diana. It was unclear what happened and how the accident occurred. Nap's girlfriend, Maura, disappeared the same night. His first love, he was stunned to find her gone and her mother was of no help at all, just saying she had transferred to another school.
Now, fifteen years later, Nap has an okay life. He grew close to the police chief after their joint tragedy and ended up joining the police force himself. It's a sleepy little town and the job isn't that taxing. He still lives in his boyhood home; in fact, he still sleeps in the bedroom he shared with his brother Leo. Not much happens in his life, but when your stuck in the mud, nothing is okay.
Then he gets a call that changes everything. A policeman has been killed in another town and it turns out to be one of Leo's friends. Nap hadn't kept up with him and was vaguely aware he had also become a policeman, but when his police force was asked for help, he volunteers. He is shocked when he arrives and finds out there is evidence of someone else involved in the death, and that all signs point to it being Maura.
This is the first he has heard of Maura in all these years and he is determined to find her this time. As he investigates the death, things start to happen that indicate the logjam of silence is about to break about the past. Another friend from high school, a brilliant boy who went off the tracks and is now the town homeless crank, has gone missing. With the reluctant help of the police chief who just wants to forget the night he lost his daughter, Nap starts to put the pieces together to unearth the truth of what happened all those years ago.
Harlan Coben is one of the mystery genre's shining lights. A winner of the Edgar, Shamus and Anthony Awards, his books feature tight mysteries that make unseeable twists that leave the reader wanting more. He has written twenty novels in addition to a series about a detective. This was one of his standalone novels and readers will find the Coben magic in full force. This book is recommended for mystery readers.
Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Detective Harry Hole has left the detective bureau where he is renowned as the man who has captured some of Norway's most horrific killers. Instead, he has entered a better phase of his life. He is married to the love of his life and is now teaching other policeman how he did what he did. His stepson is working towards becoming a policeman also and life is good.
At least, it's good for a while but murder never sleeps. Two events shatter Harry's world. His wife is taken to the hospital for what Harry thinks is a routine visit and ends up in an induced coma. The doctors are not optimistic about her chances or indeed, what is exactly wrong with her. At the same time, a new killer has erupted. He is a vampire killer and drains his victims of their blood.
The police commissioner, who has ridden Harry's success into his job, has further ambitions. He basically blackmails Harry into returning and working on the case which the papers and TV are going nuts about. Harry hates breaking his promise to his wife to give up the danger and obsession of a major murder case, but in reality, he knows he has missed it and it is what he is meant to do. He forms a team of former colleagues along with a psychologist who has studied the subject and prepares to go forth to capture the killer, who seems to be one who he captured years before and who escaped from prison.
There isn't another detective in the genre like Harry Hole. His self-destructiveness which wars with his love of his wife and son keeps the reader on edge and pulling for him. Those around him often get caught in the destruction that follows him, yet are devoted to him. Throughout, Hole's basic goodness and willingness to do what is necessary regardless of the price is compelling. This book is recommended for mystery readers.
Sunday, March 4, 2018
This novel opens with a crime. Dr. Gus Voorhees has sacrificed much personally and professionally in order to provide abortion services in a small town. Without him, women have no choices. He is gunned down in the driveway upon arrival one morning by Luther Dunphy. Dunphy is an Evangelical Christian and has associated with a group of intense anti-abortionists within the church. He is encouraged to his action by their insistence that the only way to stop the killing of babies is by eliminating the doctors that perform the procedures.
But Oates does not stop there. She follows all the participants for many years afterward, showing how one action can start ripples that affect many. Luther is arrested and tried, convicted and eventually put to death. The families are left behind to make what they will of the deaths and to try to forge a new life for themselves.
Dawn Dunphy believes her father is a hero. Never good in school or popular, she is scorned even more after what her father does. Her mother retreats into her religion, leaving Dawn to make what she will of her life. What she decides to do is become a woman boxer and let her fights express the pain and confusion she feels.
Naomi Voorhees is broken by grief. Her mother cannot cope and gives her children to their grandparents to raise. Naomi idolizes her father. After college, she becomes a documentary maker or at least is working towards that. At first, she wants to make a documentary about her father and what his death meant but she decides to change focus. While researching the crime, she learns that Dawn is now D. D. Dunphy, Warrior for Jesus and decides to attend a fight. Her focus changes and she becomes interested in D.D. At first she is repulsed by her but cannot stay away and suddenly, understanding her life is what Naomi wants to do.
This is an important, thought-provoking novel. Oates outlines both sides of an issue that continues to tear America apart. Each side believes that they have the absolute truth of the issue and that sacrifices are necessary in order to bring success to their side. Oates writes about the fallout of such viewpoints and in today's divided nation, the insights she provides are useful regardless of the issue that separates people and families. This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.
Saturday, March 3, 2018
If there was anyone alive who had a better reason for not trusting than Charlotte Rowe, it would be hard to imagine. She was kidnapped as an infant by a pair of serial killers who chose her mother and their next victim and brought her along. They raised her as their own for seven years until the FBI discovered them and freed her. Physically free, she was still imprisoned by other's expectations of her. The press gave her the name of "The Burning Girl" as she accompanied the woman whenever she burned the clothes and belongings of the victims, although she never had any idea what was going on. Everyone wanted to see her, to touch her, to know her. She was a dream girl for marginal sociopaths everywhere who thought she would be their perfect partner.
Her birth father, who one would think would be overjoyed to have his daughter returned to him, instead saw a chance to cash in. He wrote a book about Charlotte's experiences and then took her on a speaking tour. When she finally rebelled, she left to go live with her mother's mother and that grandmother supplied her with her first sense of normality in her life. After her death, she changed her name and moved out to the desert to live alone always protected by her guns and security system.
But evil will not rest. She gave one man her trust and he instead drugged her with an experimental drug under the guise of medication to let her sleep. Instead it gave her superhuman strength and the ability to fight her way out of any situation. When it proves successful, Charlotte is on the run again, this time from the man who gave it to her and the company that made it. She runs back to her grandmother's house, where with the help of her grandmother's boyfriend and a deputy sheriff she knew in high school along with a hacker on the run, she decides this time to fight back. Will Charlotte be successful?
Christopher Rice has made a name for himself in the thriller genre. He is, of course, best known by some readers as the son of Anne Rice and has co-written with her. This novel, the first in a series, shows his skill in setting a fast-paced story that grabs the reader and never lets go until the end. Charlotte is a tough woman, created by a life that most can never imagine and she uses the situation to resolve many of the ghosts of her past. This book is recommended for thriller readers.
Monday, February 26, 2018
When Ragnvald Eysteinsson returns with his crewmates from a season of raiding, the Norwegian expects to return home to claim his father's land from his stepfather now that he has reached his majority and to marry Hilda from a neighboring farm. Instead, he is betrayed by the captain of his ship, Solvi, cut by his sword and pushed overboard. As the ship disappears, Ragnvald tries to reach shore but soon finds himself drowning. As he slips under the water, he has a vision of a great golden wolf that he must follow. He regains the surface and is rescued by a fisherman.
Returning home, he realises that Olaf, his stepfather, has no intention of turning his land over and that in fact, he has probably been behind the treachery Ragnvald has encountered. After trying and failing to best Olaf in the annual court, he falls in with soldiers and is soon in the court of King Hakor. He knows Hakor's bastard son, Oddi, who brings him to Hakor's attention. Known for his wisdom and fairness, he becomes an advisor and is sent to accompany Hakor's sons to the camp of a contender to unite all of Norway. This is Harald, just a boy but already a feared warrior. His goal is to unite all of Norway under his rule. Could he be the golden wolf Ragnvald is to follow?
In the meantime, Solvi heads up the opposition. Even more galling, he has taken Ragnvald's sister, Svanhild, as his wife. Everything Ragnvald has done has been done with the thought of protecting his sister and to find her now the wife of his greatest enemy is almost more than he can bear. As events move toward a climatic battle between the two forces, Ragnvald's destiny as well as that of Norway will be decided.
This novel is a fascinating glimpse into the world of the Vikings. Long glorified in fantasy, this story shows the short, brutal lives of many in the culture and how alliances and betrayals were the stuff of daily life. Along the way to showing how Norway became a united country, it narrates the daily lives of these people. This is Linnea Hartsuyker's debut novel and she has exploded onto the historical literature genre. This book is recommended for historical fiction readers and anyone interested in a fascinating story.
Thursday, February 22, 2018
It's a normal day at Comoran Strike's London detective agency. Or at least, it's normal until his assistant, Robin, opens a package and finds a severed human leg in it.
The police are called and they of course want to know who would send Cormoran such a thing. Cormoran can think of at least four people. One was a mobster he helped put away, one a man he arrested while he was military police, another a pedophile he was instrumental in stopping and the last is his stepfather, a semi-famous musician whom Comoran has always believed murdered his mother.
Robin's appalled but there are other issues. She is about to marry Matthew who she has been with for years. He insists she quit her job immediately and as this is a sore subject between them for years, she knows this will only strengthen his case. She is determined to continue working as a detective and to do so despite Matthew's objections and Cormoran's determination to at least protect her while she's working.
The two detectives start off on a journey to determine who is so set on destroying Comoran and his agency. After the police find the rest of the girl, they soon discover that this is not a one time affair. Instead, this is a man who has killed before and as he quickly proves, will kill again. Worse, he seems fixated on Robin and things quickly get dangerous. Can Comoran and Robin find him before he finds and finishes them?
This is the third novel in the series and readers of the first two will be happy with this effort. Comoran is a wonderful character, one of those rough and ready men who are magnets to women without trying and who would be surprised to know it. Robin continues to show strength and ingenuity and is a strong female character. The book ends on a cliffhanger that will have readers anxiously awaiting the fourth book in the series.
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
It's almost the end of February with spring on its way. My daffodils will be blooming sometime this week and I can't wait to see them; they are so optimistic and happy. I've been reading a lot but haven't finished a lot. I've only finished two books this month which may be a record for me but that number will go up by the end of the month as I have several that I'll finish before then. Sports are almost over for me for the year and that's when my reading goes up. I watch football all the way to the end; with college basketball I watch only till the Tarheels are out of the Big Dance. Last year, of course, they went all the way and won and I can only hope they do that well this year. Here's what's come through the door:
1. Snow City, G.A. Kthryns, thriller, sent by author
2. How Hard Can It Be?, Allison Pearson, women's lit, won online
3. Autumn, Ali Simith, literary fiction, purchased
4. The Burial Society, Nina Sadowsky, mystery, Amazon Vine review book
5. The Standard Grand, Jay Baron Nicorvo, literary fiction, Amazon Vine review book
6. Quietus, Vivian Schilling, thriller, sent by publisher
7. The Lauras, Sara Taylor, literary fiction, Amazon Vine review book
8. False Friend, Andrew Grant, mystery, Amazon Vine review book
9. Winter Sisters, Robin Oliveira, historical fiction, sent by publisher
10. The Storm King, Brendan Duffy, thriller, sent by publisher
11. The New Boy, Tracy Chevalier, literary fiction, sent by publisher
12. Crimson Lake, Candice Fox, thriller, sent by publisher
13. The Darkling Bride, Laura Andersen, historical fiction, sent by publisher
Here's what I'm reading:
1. Career Of Evil, Robert Galbraith, audio
2. Strangler, Cory Mitchell, Kindle
3. You, Caroline Kepnes, paper
4. The Jury Returns, Louis Nizer, hardback
5. Possession, A.S.Byatt, hardback
6. The Woman In The Window, A.J. Finn, Kindle Fire
7. A Book Of American Martyrs, Joyce Carol Oates, Kindle Fire
8. Astonish Me, Maggie Shipstead, Kindle
9. The Abomination, Jonathan Holt, Kindle Fire
10. The Half-Drowned King, Linnea Hartsuyler, hardback
11, The Portable Nineteenth-Century African American Women Writers, various, paperback
Sunday, February 18, 2018
In Ankh-Morpork, the city thrives on rumors. Of course, no one really knows what's going on, but that's okay. But William de Worde doesn't think so. He has renounced his wealthy family and must scratch out his own living. He does so by sending letters to various men of influence telling them what is going on.
William's life changes when he meets Gunilla Goodmountain and his fellow dwarfs. They have come to Ankh-Morpork to make their living and have brought their printing press with them. William is entranced with the rapidity that news can be distributed and before you know it, he has created the first newspaper, the Ankh-Morpork Times. He hires Sacharissa Cripslock, a beautiful girl who is determined to make her way as a writer and who seems perfect for the business. He also hires Otto as the photographer. Otto is a vampire and every time he takes a flash picture, he crumbles into ashes and must be reconstituted. Together, the group soon has a thriving business.
But all is not well. Another newspaper, The Inquirer, starts up and it has a different business plan. It's so hard to figure out what is going on so they just make up stories. Not the truth but very popular with the readers. One of their stories is about the top administrator, Lord Vetinari. He has disappeared and the rumor is that he stole money before his disappearance. William is sure Lord Vetinari is innocent and in fact, in danger, but few believe him. The appearance of two of the most murderous villains, Mr. Pin and Mr. Tulip, tends to back up William, but can he survive long enough to bring the truth to his readers?
This is the twenty-fifth novel in Terry Pratchett's enormously successful series, Discworld. It was published in 2009, but is prescient of the 'truth' or 'false news' controversies swirling around in today's world. The humor is sly and omnipresent. Fans of Pratchett's world will rejoice in this title, and those, like me, for whom this is an introduction, will wonder what took them so long to discover Pratchett's genius. This book is recommended for fantasy fans.
Friday, February 16, 2018
In this new epic fantasy, a disaster has come upon the lands. Bone Giants have invaded and are determined to take whatever they want. They can throw up a city in mere weeks, and their response when meeting with anyone from any of the surrounding countries is to kill everything they encounter. In this world, every country is the site of a Keening, an extraordinary talent that is given to some of its inhabitants. There are five known kennings. In a country near the sea, the keening is to control water; another country controls rock and earth while another controls all plant life. There is talk of seven kennings but only five have been discovered and used. All the other countries band together to fight the invasion and the death and destruction the giants bring.
Dervan is an academic. He grew up with the ruler of his country and many of the refugees from the giant's invasion have ended up in his country. The ruler asks Dervan to do two things. First, he must learn how to speak with a giant that has been captured and imprisoned in order to see what he can determine about their plans. Then he is to work with and report on a bard who has come to town.
Fintan is the bard. He is a shape shifter and uses his talent to take on the character and forms of those he tells tales about. He gathers an ever-growing crowd each day to tell them about what is happening; how the giants have come, what they have already done and plan to do and what the various countries plan to counter them. He talks of heroes and disasters, of tragedy and courage and disaster and hope. The crowds grow every day to hear him and the rulers want to have someone there to be sure what Fintan is saying, as there is also suspicion that he is a spy. Can the other countries pull together to defeat the greatest enemy any have encountered? There is a rumor that the Sixth Keening has been discovered and perhaps it will provide the answer.
This is the first novel of a planned trilogy by one of the masters of fantasy. Hearne's Iron Druid series is a masterpiece in the fantasy genre and this new series promises to be another one. The world building is epic and his ability to juggle myriad characters while advancing the story is amazing. The structure of having the bard tell the story in daily implements allows Herne to introduce all the characters in detail while filling in the story of how the giants are to be defeated. This book is recommended for fantasy readers.
Tuesday, January 30, 2018
This is a trio of novellas by the author Paul Auster. The books are City Of Glass, Ghosts and The Locked Room. In City Of Glass, Quinn, an author who writes detective stories, finds himself involved in solving a mystery that is stranger than anything he ever created. In Ghosts, a man named Blue, trained by Brown, has been hired by White to watch and report on Black. He devotes his life to this only to discover that Black is watching him also.
The final novella is the most finely developed. In it, the best friend of a man named Fanshawe is contacted by Fanshawe's wife. She reports that he has disappeared and she is sure that by now he is dead. He has left an extensive library of his writing, and instructions that if anything were to happen to him, his friend was to be notified and become the literary executor of his writings. The writings are, surprisingly, snapped up and soon recognized as works of genius and the man soon falls in love with Fanshaw's wife and becomes part of her life.
Auster's work is concerned with the difficulties of identity, how we define ourselves and whether our definition is truth or only what is easiest for us to believe. The novellas show how easily humans are thrown off their routine lives and tipped into strange occurrences that leave them grasping for meaning. This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.
Friday, January 26, 2018
Detective Mike McCabe left his career as a homicide detective in New York City. He has bad memories there. His brother was gunned down and killed there and his marriage fell apart. The department had him under a cloud of suspicion after he ended up shooting the man who killed his brother. With all of that baggage, moving to Portland, Maine should give him a new start.
But Portland isn't as restful as he thought it would be. A teenage soccer star went missing and is found a week later dead, mutilated with her heart missing. When he checks, he suspects this isn't the first murder like this and another woman just went missing. On top of that, his ex-wife after three years has decided it's time to re-enter his daughter's life.
McCabe and his partner, Maggie Savage investigate and soon have a suspect. They start to believe that this is a pattern that has occurred many more times than they suspected and that it concerns a group rather than one individual. When the conspiracy appears to have roots in Florida, New York, Boston and North Carolina, they realize that they are facing something no one has seen before. Can they find the killer before more women are killed?
This is the first book in the McCabe/Savage series. which has five novels at the time of this review. This one is a promising start with fully drawn lead characters and a fast-paced plot that still gives the reader a view into police procedure. Although the plot line has been done before, Hayman breathes fresh life into it and his characters and the tensions between them insure the reader's attention is retained until the end. This book is recommended for mystery readers.
Tuesday, January 16, 2018
It was summer in England and a group of twelve year olds had it to themselves. Their parents worked and anyhow, who really watched kids in 1986? They spent the days playing in the woods or on the playground, riding their bikes and trying to impress each other. Each has his own issues. Eddie's mother has just opened the first abortion clinic in town and their family is getting threats. Fat Gov is the leader as he is the most confident; his parents run the local pub. Hoppo's mother was the local cleaning woman. Metal Mickey had an obnoxious older brother who loved to make the gang's life miserable. Nicky was the only girl; her father was the preacher and he had a group that protested at the clinic every day.
The kids led a generally carefree life but that summer everything changed. It started at the fair where they witnessed a horrific accident and Eddie helped save a life, making him a hero for a while. The real hero was their teacher, Mr. Halloran. That was the summer they got chalk and spent time leaving coded messages for each other. That was also the year they found out about death.
Now it's thirty years later and Micky has come back to town, the most apparent success among them all. Eddie is now a teacher himself but still lives in the same house where he rents a room to a young woman named Chloe. Fat Gov now runs the pub his parents ran and Hoppo is still his best friend. Micky left town and is a successful ad executive. Nicky moved away after the events of that summer and the guys lost track of her long ago.
Micky comes to see Ed (as he now thinks of himself) and Ed's not sure he's glad about it. Micky wants to make money off the events of that summer thirty years ago and the gang who discovered the bodies. He's back in town to try to get Ed to help with the writing of a book and has lined up media events. But his return leads to the return of tensions and death. Can Ed and his gang from that long ago summer find the truth once and for all?
C.J. Tudor has written a nostalgic yet suspenseful psychological thriller that readers will enjoy. This is her debut novel but won't be her last as this one is getting great reviews. Each character is fully developed and readers will remember their own young days and young friendships, taut with shared adventures and the first stirrings of danger and betrayals. This book is recommended for mystery readers.
Saturday, January 13, 2018
No one is very surprised that Vita Berlin is a murder victim. A thoroughly unpleasant woman who rarely left her apartment, she had nothing but venomous speech whenever she encountered anyone. Her neighbors lived in fear of upsetting her. But who did she upset enough to have her body left in the way it was? Even seasoned policeman blanched.
The case is assigned to Milo Sturgis and he brings in his psychologist friend Alex Delaware as the killer has to be out of the ordinary. When additional victims start to show up, that assumption becomes even more likely. There is nothing to connect the victims; nothing but the fact that each is an unpleasant person. Yet there is no doubt that the same killer is at work. In addition to the gruesome bodies left, every crime scene had some paper with a large question mark prominently displayed. Can Milo and Alex find the killer?
This is the twenty-seventh novel in the Alex Delaware series. The series has been successful due to the interplay between the psychologist and the policeman. One is all about the surface facts while the other delves deep into personality disorders. Together they are a formidable team as the length and success of the series will attest. This book is recommended for mystery readers.
Thursday, January 11, 2018
This is the big break Lo Blacklock has been waiting for. She has been marking time at a small travel magazine, waiting on a promotion that is unlikely to happen at such a small enterprise. But a marvelous opportunity has fallen in her lap. Her boss falls ill and is unable to go on a maiden voyage cruise and chooses Lo to go in her place. If she does a good job, she can either get that promotion or make enough buzz to move to another job.
This should be an easy assignment to find plenty to write about. The cruise ship is small, just ten suites. It is the latest brainchild of the fabulously wealthy Richard Bullmar, a young entrepreneur whose every idea turns to gold. This inaugural trip of the Aurora will have Bullmer and his wife, some of his friends and various media representatives. They will go from England to Norway, which is his wife's homeland. The hope is that they will get to experience the Northern Lights in addition to utter luxury aboard.
But things don't go well. The first night, Lo is in her bed. Yes, she drank too much at the first dinner but she knows when she bolts upright out of a sound sleep that something is wrong. She hears a scream, then a huge splash as if a body has hit the water. Looking next door from her veranda, she sees that the door is streaked with blood. Surely someone has fallen into the ocean.
She calls the chief steward but things don't go well. He insists that there was no one in the adjoining cabin even when Lo insists that she met the woman there before the dinner. When she describes the woman, he takes her around to meet all the staff and there is no one that matches the description. Since it is a small ship, there is only a handful of staff. Even worse, the steward suggests that Lo was mistaken; that she was either intoxicated or that she is paranoid and looking for attention. But someone believes her and that someone is determined to stop Lo before she can get the ear of someone who matters. Will that person succeed?
Ruth Ware has written an intriguing thriller that will keep readers guessing. The suspense builds quickly and the updates from Lo's home as her family and boyfriend start to suspect something is wrong add to the mystery. Ruth Ware has had a couple of best selling mysteries and she is a new star in the genre. This book is recommended for suspense readers.
Tuesday, January 9, 2018
Henry Dunbar should be a happy man. He created a massive media empire over which he ruled for many years, a feared and influential man. So how has he ended up in Meadowmeade, a sanatorium for the very wealthy but a prison nonetheless? It's amazing how little it took to strip Henry of his empire. Take two greedy daughters, Megan and Abby. Once they recruited Henry's personal physician to give him drugs to disorient his mind, things escalated rapidly, ending in Henry's total loss of freedom and access to funds. He has one more daughter, Florence, but Henry pushed her aside a while back when she refused to get caught up in the battles of the business, opting instead to move to a remote location and live with her husband and children.
But Henry has a plan. He's been hiding his medicine for a while now instead of taking it and his mind is getting clearer. Along with his best friend in the clinic, he plans to escape and then take back his empire. The initial phase goes well and they escape, but the friend opts to return, leaving Henry to push onward into the fog and mountain passes of the rural England landscape. Can a man in his condition survive? Who will find him, his two older daughters or his younger one who has forgiven him everything?
Hogarth Publishing has undertaken having authors rewrite Shakespeare's plays in a more modern setting. This title is the rewrite of King Lear and as that title was, is full of drama and tragedy. It ponders the question of what is really important in life, titles and money and fulfilling work or family and love? Henry is not a positive main character although there is much to admire in him. This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.
Saturday, January 6, 2018
When Duncan Forbe's body is pulled from the River Clyde in Glasgow, DCI William Latimer is called in to investigate. Forbes had been at a going away party for another member of his accounting firm and everyone's first thought was that he had overindulged and fallen in. But when drugs are found in his system, it becomes clear that this was no accident.
As Lorimer and his team interrogate the other members of the firm, they pick up an uneasiness and reluctance to talk. When the man the party was given for is reported found dead in America where his new job was to be, suspicions rise higher. When a flirtatious member of the HR Department is found dead in her apartment, it is crystal clear that the accounting firm has big secrets that are also dangerous.
Lorimer pulls in his psychologist friend, Solly, who is helpful in gauging personalities during interrogations and in looking at the case from a different perspective. Solly has helped Lorimer on other cases and his insights are once again an impetus to Lorimer's thought processes. Can the two men and the Glasgow Police discover what is going on before more lives are lost?
Alex Gray has written eleven novels in the DCI Lorimer series with another one coming in the spring of 2018. Lorimer is not a flashy detective or one who ignores police procedure. Instead, he uses the investigative tools available to him along with his own common sense to solve the murders that mar the Glasgow landscape. His use of the psychologist as a consultant lends more interest to the cases but it is always clear who is in charge. This book is recommended for mystery readers.
Thursday, January 4, 2018
It is 1906 and Delia Martin has returned home to San Francisco. She is a wealthy young woman and the world should be her oyster. Her best friend, more like a sister, is getting married and Delia is there to help plan the wedding. But things are not as good as they seem. San Francisco is being targeted by a serial killer; one who created havoc thirty years ago and who now is back at his killing ways. This time, he may have Delia in his sights.
Her friend's fiance is a policeman and through him Delia meets Gabe. Gabe is heading up the investigation into the killer. Little does he know the help that Delia will be. For Delia has always been able to see through the veil and sense spirits. She has been accompanied for many months by a ghost that won't leave and is determined that Delia help her. With the help of a medium, Delia realizes that this woman was a victim of the serial killer thirty years ago and she is determined to help bring the man to justice this time around. Can Delia help Gabe finally put an end to him?
Jaime Lee Moyer has created an interesting historical mystery. She has researched San Francisco after the great quake and provides a peak not only into that but into topics such as the Fair that followed it, wedding customs in the early part of the century and police methods. The romance that builds between Delia and Gabe is expected and handled well. This book is recommended for readers who enjoy historical mysteries.
Tuesday, January 2, 2018
It's a start of another new year and Booksie wishes all readers a happy, healthy prosperous year! I'm doing a 2017 wrap up of my reading year along with a listing of what's come through the door lately and the books I'm in the midst of reading. In 2017, I read a total of 117 books. I met the following reading goals:
1. I read more classics. This year I read East Of Eden, Bleak House and Moby Dick.
2. I read a lot more of my own books that are sitting on shelves and in piles.
3. I made progress in catching up in series by Mo Hayder, Michael Connelly, Jonathan Kellerman and John Sandford.
I rate my books on a scale of 1-5. This year the fives included:
1. The Diamond Age, Neal Stephenson
2. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
3. The Stress Of Her Regard, Tim Powers
4. The Lies Of Locke Lamora, Scott Lynch
5. American Gods, Neil Gaiman
6. Smoke, Dan Vyleta
7. A Dark So Deadly, Stuart MacBride
8. A Gentleman In Moscow, Amor Towles
9. Shame, Salman Rushdie
10. My Absolute Darling, Gabriel Tallent
Here's what's come through the doors lately:
1. Morse's Greatest Mystery, Colin Dexter, mystery anthology, won at a party
2. Bone Music, Christopher Rice, mystery, sent for book tour
3. The Undoing Project, Michael Lewis, nonfiction, won at a party
4. Swing Time, Zadie Smith, fiction, purchased
5. The Broken Girls, Simone St. James, suspense, won in a contest
6. The Chalk Man, C.J. Tudor, mystery, sent for book tour
7. Still Me, Jojo Moyes, literary fiction, sent by publisher
8. The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin, fantasy, gift from my son
9. The Obelisk Gate, N.K. Jemisin, fantasy, gift from my son
10. The Stone Sky, N.K. Jemisin, fantasy, gift from my son
11. The Mechanical, Ian Tregillis, sci fi, gift from my son
12. The Rising, Ian Tregillis, sci fi, gift from my son
13. The Liberation, Ian Tregillis, sci fi, gift from my son
Here's what I'm reading:
1. Career Of Evil, Robert Galbraith, audio
2. Strangler, Cory Mitchell, Kindle
3. You, Caroline Kepnes, paper
4. The Jury Returns, Louis Nizer, hardback
5. The New York Trilogy, Paul Auster, paper
6. The Riverman, Alex Gray, Kindle Fire
7. A Book Of American Martyrs, Joyce Carol Oates, Kindle Fire
8. Astonish Me, Maggie Shipstead, Kindle
9. The Abomination, Jonathan Holt, Kindle Fire
10. Delia's Shadow, Jamie Lee Moyer, hardback
11, Victims, Jonathan Kellerman, paper
Friday, December 29, 2017
It's Career Day at Guadalupe Middle School and tensions are running high. Things have happened that make the school less than a restful place. Last year, a girl was shot outside of school but she was a student and the cousin of the boy who shot her goes to the school also. That trial is now going on. A new sixth-grader, the daughter of the local car dealer, disappeared and no word has been heard of her. Was she killed somewhere or did she run away?
There is a new principal who is trying to turn the school around. Linda comes from the Midwest, a strange match with her mainly Hispanic students, but seems to be making progress in helping the school. Her husband Gordon is English and a bit of a mystery. He helps out along with Tio, the janitor and Coach, a retired educator who has come back to help out. Olivia is the local policewoman who watches over the town which means she is worried about the school as well. Together they all try to help the students who have issues and keep things simmering under the surface instead of breaking out.
The students have shifting alliances and moods. There is Brendan who is broodingly handsome and a basketball star but who is obviously troubled and seems to be ready to blow. Sophia is the sister of the girl who was killed last year and is just starting to emerge from a cloud of grief. Her best friend, Mina, has come to the area with her Iranian parents who are always worried about her security. Nick was the missing girl's best friend and he has been lost without her and has started a viral campaign against her father. All while these kids are supposed to be getting an education. Will the school blow before Career Day is ended?
Laurie R. King has written many well-received mysteries. Her series about Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell has been a major best seller. She has four novels in a series featuring a female detective, Kate Martinelli. This book is a stand alone but her ability to set a tense atmosphere and move the action along to a chilling climax is well demonstrated. This book is recommended for mystery readers.
Thursday, December 28, 2017
Detective Chief Inspector Roberta Steele, who has been the terror of the police force for years, has been demoted down to a Detective Sergeant. This occurred when she planted evidence against Jack Wallace who she knew was guilty of rape but could not prove her case. Now she has a new team and her caseload consists of bringing to justice shoplifters and other petty criminals. Her main sidekick is Tufty, a young policeman who is interested in physics and finding a girlfriend.
But Steele has not given up putting Wallace away. Right now he has the upper hand, filing complaints against her whenever she encounters him and the administration is on his side and has forbidden her to be anywhere near him. But the rapes are continuing and she knows, just knows, that he is behind them all.
Otherwise, her cases are varied. An old lady is being terrorized by a loan shark after she borrowed money to get her pet dog to the vet. A toddler is left for several days in an apartment when his mother overdoses on drugs. Two other young children are found in a thieve's den where they are being trained to become thieves themselves. It often seems that there is no way to stem the rising tide of crime but Steele is determined not to give up. But can she make a difference before Wallace comes to take everything she holds dear?
Roberta Steele is one of the most memorable characters in crime fiction. Although she is obnoxious and loud, a heart of gold beats underneath the rough exterior. MacBride's ability to mix violent crime and a bit of humor that a policeman must have in order to survive is unparalleled and the reason his star shines so brightly in this genre. This book is recommended for mystery readers.
Sunday, December 24, 2017
Rachel and Wick live in the City, although living is a very different proposition from what it was six years ago when the Company failed. Now everyone must be considered an enemy and a residence must be hidden and provided with plenty of traps to catch would-be intruders. There are no government services, no money and no civilization as most would consider it. There are only power factions and a demand that everyone pick a side. Rachel is a scavenger and brings home to Wick the food and technology she finds. Wick is a scientist and can still create protein and items that help people survive, like medicine bugs or items that fight.
The Company was a biotech one, and when it got out of control, bad things happened. They engineered bits of life and when those lives got too big to handle, they were released. The biggest is Mord, a bear-like being that is stories high, huge yet able to fly. He is psychotic from what was done to him and spends his days looking for anything to kill. He is the defining element of this world. There is also The Magician, a woman who knows enough secrets that she is sure she can defeat Mord and restore society, with her as ruler of course.
One day while scavenging, Rachel comes across Mord sleeping and crawls up on his fur. Most scavengers would never have the courage to do that and Mord tends to have interesting things stuck in his fur. That's the case this day as Rachel finds a small anemone-like item with beautiful colors. She sticks it in her bag and takes it home. For some reason she doesn't share it with Wick but keeps it. As the days go by, it starts to grow and soon she is finding it in places she didn't leave it. Finally, one day it speaks and she realises it is a sentient being. As the days, weeks and months go by, Rachel thinks of Borne, which is the name she gives it, as her child and she nurtures and teaches him. Wick is adamantly opposed as he believes Borne is a monster that Rachel hasn't seen the truth of. Who is correct and what will happen if Rachel has brought in an entity that could destroy the world they tentatively inhabit?
Jeff Vandermeer is one of the shining stars of the sci fi/fantasy world and his novels tend to be dsytopian. He writes of the fine line between the wonders of science and the horrors that can be released when humans err on their knowledge of the consequences they can unleash. His Southern trilogy is considered a modern masterpiece, and this novel continues his themes and his readability. This book is recommended for sci fi/fantasy readers.
Tuesday, December 19, 2017
Mothering Sunday is the third Sunday before Easter. It was originally a day on which individuals visited their original or 'mother' church. Over the years, it became a day on which domestic servants were freed from service to go visit their families or do whatever pleased them.
The year is 1924 and we follow the day of Jane Fairchild on Mothering Day. She is twenty-two and a maid in the home of the Nivens. They are kind to her, even encouraging her desire to read and educate herself. On this Mothering Day, the Nivens are off to lunch with their friends whose son and daughter are to be married in two weeks.
But Jane has other plans. She has been involved in an affair with the son who is about to be married and whose house is next to that of the Nivens for seven years. Today all the families involved are off at lunch and the two have his house to themselves. The novel opens in the moments when they are through with sex and lying naked in his bed. But he has other plans; he must meet his fiance for their own lunch. Will this be his last time with Jane? They have taught each other everything about sex over the years. Is that all to come to an end?
The novel is told from the viewpoint of Jane decades later when she is an established and celebrated author. She looks back at her first lover and at her life in those days and sees how far she has come in life since then. Graham Swift has written nine novels and has been a successful author, winning both the Guardian Fiction Prize and the Booker. This novel is intricate and delves into the lifestyle common in England in the days surrounding World War I where great families have large homes and there is an entire class of people 'in service' to them. Is Jane being exploited or is she taking charge of her own life? The reader must determine this and other questions about Jane as her life is slowly unfolded for examination. This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.
Sunday, December 17, 2017
Meadow Noone is eighteen and unsure of what is happening. Along with two friends, she was imprisoned in a cellar where unspeakable horror was the daily ration. When the three escape, their only thought is to get far away. As they run, they are captured by soldiers and taken to the nearby town of Thornbridge, where they are charged with a crime they know nothing of.
Desperate to free herself and banish the criminal acts attributed to her, the three align themselves with the ruling class of the town and go on a mission to help the townspeople. When they return, they enjoy a brief minute of acclaim but more things are brewing. There is a war with a neighboring town, and an internal group of terrorists whose loyalty could go to either side. Meadow allows herself to become addicted to a strange fruit and those whose help she relies on seem to know more about her life and strange powers than she does herself. Can Meadow discover the secrets of her own life and find a way forward?
This is a first novel by this author. The story needed more explanation and the book should probably be longer in order for the author to build the world out so that the reader understands the setting and the plot. The action is confusing as it seems like a montage of scenes that flash by with little explanation. It appears that this may be the first of a series and if so, perhaps more explanation and fuller developed characters will come in the next book. This book was written for the young adult fantasy market and its readers will come from those genres.
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
In an established neighborhood in New York City, a new family moves into a fabulous mansion. They are the Goldens who are immigrants from abroad, maybe India, maybe the Middle East, the residents are not quite sure. The father, Nero, is an obviously successful and powerful man even if his story is shrouded in mystery. He has moved here with his three sons. Petya is a brilliant man who is crippled by his insecurities and is rarely seen outside the house. Apu is an artist and quickly makes his mark in artistic circles, knowing and loving everyone and anyone. D is the youngest son, a half-brother to Petya and Apu. He is racked by doubts about his identity and what course his life should take.
Rene is a resident of the neighborhood. He is a young would-be filmmaker who has grown up there. He is fascinated by the Golden family and decides to make a movie about them. When his own parents are killed in an accident, he is invited into the Golden house and soon learns many of their secrets. When Nero meets and marries an enigmatic Russian immigrant, Vasilia, Rene is right there and sees the same things about her that worry the sons.
As the years go by, more secrets and tragedies unfold, not only for the family but in the country. Those who live in this Greenwich Village neighborhood are typically liberal and they bemoan the direction the country is taking after the administration of President Obama. Some are blase about the election; others see the conservative candidate as a madman who has evil intentions. The Golden family also starts to unwind as ill events happen to them and their innate inclinations lead them on to tragedy.
Salman Rushdie is one of today's most prominent novelists and any new novel by him is a joy. This parable documents the path America is taking as seen through the eyes of the New York intelligentsia. There are references to Greek mythology and topics such as sexual identity, the autistic spectrum, the film industry, the tragedy of wealth and the ability to reinvent oneself are explored. Some have called this novel a modern Bonfire Of The Vanities and it was an Amazon Best Book of September 2017. This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.
Saturday, December 9, 2017
Twenty years ago in a Dublin suburb a tragedy occurred. Three children, aged twelve, went into the neighboring woods where they played daily and didn't return. Two were boys, one a girl. When the search reached the woods, one boy, Adam Ryan, was found, terrorized with shoes full of blood and unable to speak. The two other children were never found and Adam never regained his memory of what happened that day.
Adam's parents reinvented his life. He was sent off to boarding school and his name became Rob instead of Adam. He never told any of his new acquaintances where he came from and his parents moved so that he never saw the neighborhood again. After a while of drifting, he becomes a policeman and after a couple of years is promoted to the Murder Squad. Most people think he is English as he has the accent from his years of living there and looks the part.
Now disaster has struck the same neighborhood again. A twelve year old girl's body has been found. It was left on an archaeological dig as a group frantically tries to dig up and preserve the past before a motorway is laid down. Katherine Devlin is the daughter of a man heading up a group protesting the motorway. She is a dancer and good enough that she is about to leave to attend the prestigious dance school in London. Her body is found on an old alter. Who would kill such a young girl?
Rob Ryan and his partner Cassie Maddox have a multitude of possibilities. Was she the victim of a sex crime? Was it someone who wanted to cripple her father's fight against the motorway? Was there family discord? Was this an adolescent fight that got out of hand? Was one of the money men behind the road involved? The detectives talked to everyone but nothing seems to break. Items that seemed like possibilities ended in dead ends. Can they find the killer?
In The Woods was Tana French's debut novel, and it launched her career as one of the mystery genre's brightest stars. The characters of the detectives are fully explored with their own insecurities and foibles ruthlessly exposed. The mystery is complex and the killer, when found, is a chilling individual the reader will not soon forget. This book is recommended for mystery readers.
Monday, December 4, 2017
It's post-Arthurian Britain and things are not going well. Britons and Saxtons are vying to rule the land and there is an uneasy truce between the two factions. Travelers must beware if they go beyond the confines of their own village as it is not easy to tell which group another traveler is from and whether they mean harm.
Yet travel is what the elderly couple Axl and Beatrice are determined to do. They are not valued in their own village; in fact they are singled out for poor treatment. They are not allowed even a candle at night to light their way in the communal dwellings. They decide to go visit their son.
They set out and believe they know the way. Yet they, like everyone else, can't really remember things. Things that happened only the other day are lost in mist. Even important things are difficult if not impossible to hold on to. They really don't know exactly where their son is or why they haven't seen him in so long or if they quarreled.
As they travel, they meet others. Some are monks who still offer hospitality to travelers. They meet an old knight in rusty armor who claims to be Sir Gawain, friend of King Arthur and part of the Round Table. He has outlived all his fellow knights of that time but continues to roam the countryside to do the things he believes Arthur taxed him with. They meet a warrior from another part of the country who seems to have a secret mission and about whom dreadful stories are told of his fighting prowess. They also meet a young boy who travels with them and the warrior as his village has thrust him out of its protection. Together all these individuals grope their way towards their destiny through the blackness of their missing memories. Will they be able to realize their goals?
Ishiguro is a celebrated novelist. He won the Booker Prize in 1989 for The Remains Of The Day and this year (2017) he won the Nobel Prize in Literature for his work. He explores the effects of memory and forgetfulness as a major theme and how we relate to each other through our own understanding of the world we inhabit. Readers will find these themes expressed in The Buried Giant and will finish the novel sure that they have been reading the work of a master. This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.
Friday, December 1, 2017
How in the heck did it get to be December 1st? This year has sped by and now we're in the busy holiday season. Our Thanksgiving was nontraditional, to say the least. We decided to skip the cooking this year and go to a big hotel buffet. The only problem was that by the time we got there, a family member was sick and couldn't go inside. So we cancelled and went back home. Since I hadn't planned on cooking, there was nothing to cook so my husband made a frozen pizza for his lunch and later we had bacon and eggs for supper. Hopefully, our Christmas will be a bit more traditional. I did complete a reading goal this year. I read Moby Dick and loved it! Hopefully in the coming year I'll get to more of the classics and chunksters on my own shelves. I've been transistioning to electronic ARC's this year so there are fewer books coming in the door but here's what's come lately:
1. Home Field, Hannah Gersen, literary fiction, purchased
2. Peregrine Island, Diane B. Saxton, literary fiction, sent by publisher
3. The Italian Party, Christina Lynch, literary fiction, won in a contest
4. The Bitch Is Back, Cathi Hanauer, essays, sent by publisher
5. Forgotten Violets, Martin Niewood, fantasy, sent for book tour
6. All The Birds In The Sky, Charlie Jane Anders, fantasy, purchased
7. The Missing, C.L. Taylor, suspense, sent by publisher
8. This Far Isn't Far Enough, Lynn Sloan, anthology, sent by publisher
9. The Man In The Crooked Hat, Harry Dolan, mystery, sent by publisher
Here's what I'm reading:
1. Career Of Evil, Robert Galbraith, audio
2. The Buried Giant, Kazuo Ishiguro, paper
3. You, Caroline Kepnes, paper
4. The Jury Returns, Louis Nizer, hardback
5. The Redeemer, Jo Nesbo, paper
6. The Golden House, Salman Rushdie, Kindle Fire
7. The Riverman, Alex Gray, Kindle Fire
8. Astonish Me, Maggie Shipstead, Kindle
9. The Abomination, Jonathan Holt, Kindle Fire
10. Delia's Shadow, Jamie Lee Moyer, hardback