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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

THE GIRLS by Emma Cline

THE GIRLS  by Emma Cline
What a sad and depressing book! Inspired by the girls who followed Charles Manson and committed vile crimes for him, this book follows a depressed and lonely girl as she falls under the spell of one of the followers of a cult leader in the 1960’s. Although some of the book is written from the perspective of an older Evie, most of it written as present day in the 60’s.  Evie as a teen is depressed and depressing. Evie as a middle aged failure is even more depressing.  Skip this one! Well written but who needs it.

2 of 5 stars

SERAFINA AND THE BLACK CLOAK by Robert Beatty


This delightfully scary middle to upper grade reader has some real family values as well as a likeable heroine and a complimentary cast of clearly drawn characters. The plot is satisfying, easy to follow and challenging to solve. The real Biltmore House and surrounding estate and the Pisgah National Forest are supporting characters. If a visit to Ashville is in the future, this book is a great way to generate interest in the history, fixtures and furnishings of the house. (The horse stable is now a restaurant!)The importance of family, do what is right and defend the helpless are the ethics that Serafina embodies.

5 of 5 

SERAFINA AND THE TWISTED STAFF by Robert Beatty

SERAFINA AND THE TWISTED STAFF  by Robert Beatty
Another delightfully scary middle to upper grade reader from Beatty that continues the story of Serafina.  The evil is back at the Biltmore Estate. Serafina has fled into the woods. A tragedy has caused her ally to doubt her; wolves and other strange creatures are attacking; and there is an evil presence in Biltmore itself. Can Serafina triumph again?

5 of 5 stars

Monday, July 18, 2016

LES PARISIENNES by Anne Sebba

LES PARISIENNES  by Anne Sebba
This is a very, very dense scholarly book concerning the women of Paris during WWII.  I ended up reading it as a collection of brief episodes as it was difficult to follow any one person’s activities because of the chronological order of events and the various names used by the women during the course of the war. The “Cast list” was almost useless as women were listed under their family name, or their husband’s name, or their resistance name, etc, but not all of them.
There are many French language phrases and words used throughout the book without translation.
You really need a very good working history of France and WWII to understand the enormity of places and events mentioned in passing, ie, the Hiv d’Vel roundup, Ravensbruck medical experiments, the Comet Line and others.
I would not recommend this book to my book group although I did appreciate the work that went into the writing of the book.
3 of 5 stars

Note to publisher: I read an advance readers copy. There are many typos and other items needing editing in this edition. It would be very helpful to translate all the French words and phrases within the body of the text (or even in a glossary).

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

THE SUMMER BEFORE THE WAR by Helen Simonson

THE SUMMER BEFORE THE WAR   by Helen Simonson
What begins as a lovely and genteel story of discrimination against a “professional” woman in an English village just before World War I, quickly becomes a fascinating tale of honor, class, love, discrimination and village life with all its charm and meanness.  The characters are delightfully and realistically portrayed.  The situations show the class and gender lines in pre-war England.  There is humor and pathos, greed and generosity, refinement and pretentiousness, honor and scandal.  But above all, it is a well written, engrossing story.

5 of 5 stars

GIRL WAITS WITH GUN by Amy Stewart

GIRL WAITS WITH GUN  by Amy Stewart
Constance Kopp, the first woman Deputy Sheriff of New Jersey, is the heroine of this novel.  Constance was a real person as are her sisters and the other law enforcement persons. The personalities of each is clearly defined. The story moves slowly, but is interesting with the detailed descriptions of life in 1914 in small towns, large cities and the family farm.  The narrative is enhanced by the newspaper articles (real ones) that are interspersed throughout. 
Altogether an engaging novel about an intriguing woman and her refreshingly novel family even with a fairly slow start.

4 of 5 stars