Wednesday, September 4, 2019

TH1RT3EN by Steve Cavanagh


TH1RT3EN  by Steve Cavanagh
This one will keep you up far into the night.  The plot is diabolical. So is the killer. 
Eddie Flynn is the one person who believes the actor accused of killing his wife and her body guard is innocent.   The bodies are falling fast and thick.  The plot twists are delicious.
For a mystery with lots of deaths this one is free of sex, unwarranted violence and curse words. Just a really good story.
5 of  5 stars

Friday, August 30, 2019

THE HUNDRED YEAR HOUSE by Rebecca Makkai


THE HUNDRED YEAR HOUSE by Rebecca Makkai
I made it through 150 pages before deciding I didn’t really care about these people and their foibles and meandering progress through what passed for life. A failed writer, a failed artist, a failed mother, a failed son – who cares. 
The writing is lovely, the story failed.
3 of 3 stars

Monday, August 26, 2019

A Better Man by Louise Penny


A BETTER MAN  by Louise Penny
I have only one other Armand Gamache mystery. This one convinces me I should read more!
Armand is back at work, demoted and brushed aside for another – his son-in-law!  A flood is happening and Three Pines is in the crosshairs. A woman is missing and her husband, who may be a murderer, is unconcerned. A new agent is pushing for Gamache to take over the case. The missing woman’s father is threatening to murder the husband. And then there is the dog.
Oh my – all these plot points and we are only in the first few pages.  The tension doesn’t stop until the last page in this engrossing mystery.  Penny keeps the tension alive with just enough red herrings and plot twists to compel reading far into the night.
A well written, engrossing mystery with a familiar character in a new and uncomfortable situation.
5 of 5 stars

ELLIE AND THE HARPMAKER by Hazel Prior


ELLIE AND THE HARPMAKER  by Hazel Prior
This is a lovely book.  Ellie, married to a controlling husband, meets Dan, who lives in solitary splendor meticulously carving exquisite harps.
The writing is detailed and engaging.  Prior uses words to describe the woods and creatures surrounding the harp barn with great charm.  Her characters grow and become clear as the story progresses.  Although she never uses any words to indicate Dan is autistic (or at least on the spectrum), it is readily apparent through her word pictures. She writes with sympathy and tenderness about her characters allowing the reader to see them change and develop with her eyes. 
As the tale unfolds danger and fear emerge, but the overriding feeling is always sympathy and gentleness.
A good book for groups interested in music, woodworking, nature, personality development, marriage, autism, forgiveness, family dynamics, and love.
5 of 5 stars

Saturday, August 10, 2019

THE GRAVE ROBBER"'S SECRET by Anna Myers


THE GRAVE ROBBER’S SECRET by Anna Myers
I have read and enjoyed other books by Anna Myers. This one left me slightly off kilter. It wasn’t bad or poorly written, I was just uncertain to the point of the book.  The ending didn’t seem to have a conclusion and for a middle grader book, there was no clear right and wrong.
Robby’s Pa takes him with him to rob a grave. They sell the body to a hospital for teaching purposes, but Robby is very disconcerted by stealing the body and defiling it. He thinks about the family whose loved one is now being dissected. 
Right, wrong, the value of education, concern for others, empathy, all come into play as the book proceeds. Because the book caused such ambivalent feelings, I am hesitant to recommend it. Parents may want to read and discuss the book with their preteens.
3 of 5 stars with reservations

DUMPLIN' by Julie Murphy


DUMPLIN’  by Judy Murphy
This book is not PC.  A teenage girl is called Dumplin’ by her mother who constantly reminds her how fat she is and how pretty she would be if she just lost some weight. 
Dumplin’ and her friends decide to enter the beauty contest Dumplin’s mother runs and had won many years before. Hilarity runs rampant as the young women (one fat, one disabled, one perhaps autistic and one gay) prepare their talent acts and wardrobes. 
This could have been awful. It was not. It becomes a sensitive and empathetic tale of young women learning to love themselves and accept others.  Oh, and there is also a gentle love story. This would be great book for a mother/parent book club.
4 of 5 stars

A BEND IN THE STARS by Rachel Barenbaum


A BEND IN THE STARS  by Rachel Barenbaum
Relativity and Russia star in this detailed novel of science and politics.  Siblings Vanya (male, older, trying to prove Einstein’s Theory of Relativity) and Miri (female, a surgeon in a man’s field, following her deserter fiancĂ©e) flee across Russia trying to stay alive long enough to prove Vanya’s theory by photographing a solar eclipse as World War I begins.
You do NOT need to understand the Theory of Relativity to enjoy this epic novel while meandering through Russia. A triangular love story ensues when Miri saves a Jewish mystery man who then falls in love with her.  The story is really the love story and the chase for a photo of the eclipsed sun all while being chased by a murderous villain.
The details are all there. The science is understandable, the characters are likeable (or detestable), the country is unmanageable, the climax is heart pounding. An enjoyable, if lengthy, read.
4 of 5 stars