Friday, October 27, 2017


THE PLAYER KING  by Avi (Edward Wortis)
Can a scullery boy become King of all England?  In 1486, Lambert Simnel is proclaimed Edward, Earl of Warwick and rightful king of England.  This young adult book tells his tale.  Written from a young boy’s point of view, the story is exciting and well told.  Henry Tudor has seized the throne from his young nephew. Was Edward killed or was he allowed to escape and become a scullery boy?  What of those who “taught or reminded” Lambert/Edward of all he needed to know?

Boys will love this tale of intrigue and power, fear and hope.  Girls will also like this tale of poverty to great riches.  Adults who like their history in tiny gulps, told with great skill, will also find this short novelization to their liking.   The story is true: the fear, and joy, and intrigue is also real. 

Avi has won the Newbery Medal, the Yarrow Award and the Golden Kite.

5 of 5 stars for the genre

Monday, October 2, 2017

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

CUTTING FOR STONE  by Abraham Verghese
Although long (perhaps a bit too long), this tale of brothers holds your attention.  When an Italian nun, woefully unprepared for a mission in Africa, turns up at a medical mission in Ethiopia, she is welcomed because of her skill with patients and her ability to serve as nurse to a highly skilled but disconnected surgeon.  After she gives birth unexpectantly to twin boys, the story switches to the boys, raised at the mission, and the “family” at the mission that raises them to adulthood.
World War II and the civil war that later divides Ethiopia into political factions serve as the background for this fascinating tale of medicine, natives, doctors, politicians and family.  Secrets and intrigue abound and are satisfyingly brought to a conclusion as the two boys search for their birth father and fulfilling lives in the midst of great love and great upheaval.

5 of 5 stars

LAROSE by Louise Erdrich

LAROSE  by Louise Erdrich
I really wanted to like this book but I just couldn’t sustain an interest in these characters or their story. Perhaps it was the jumps from past to present or present to indigenous tale or family to family, I just didn’t care. 
The whole premise of giving away a child (and then taking him back - sort of) just didn’t seem believable.  Emmaline never really seemed to be a “real” person, just a non-entity.  LaRose was too good to be true. Nola was too submerged in grief to be interesting. Maggie was my favorite character and the most believable. I couldn’t understand why anyone would believe anything Romeo said.
I have read other books by Erdrich and liked them. This one was just a disappointment.

3 of 5 stars for good writing, poor story 

Year One: Chronicles of the ONE by Nora Roberts

YEAR ONE: Chronicles of THE ONE     by Nora Roberts (J D Robb)
I had never read either Nora Roberts (or J D Robb) so I was unsure what to expect when I received this advanced reader copy. I assumed she was a romance/chick lit author so was not expecting much.  What I got was a science fiction novel with a detailed, tension filled plot, clear, well-developed characters and a great read. This is the first book of a proposed three book set so I was expecting lots of characters and that is what I got. I kept a running list and thumbnail sketch of the characters as I read. This was very helpful and I hope the author/publisher have a “cast of characters” in the finished novel to keep all the players straight.
There are three different sets of characters and situations as the story develops. These three sets do eventually come together after each meets challenging circumstances as a world-wide virus decimates the population. The virus unleashes death, but also exposes the remaining population to an assortment of human personnas – fairies, wizards, seers, etc. These beings are referred to as uncannies as opposed to the “only human” population, some of whom accept the uncannies and some who wish them only harm and death.  This sets up the ongoing conflict between the various segments of the remaining population and also introduces the idea of “The ONE” who will save the world.
This book is a satisfying novel on its own and does have a logical and satisfying conclusion.  The conflict set up for the remaining two books is similar to a race war, only between “human and Uncanny”.  The writing is clear. The characters are well developed and interesting. The relationships are logical. The virus is believable as are the situations.
Altogether a rich and satisfying world has been set forth filled with interesting characters and a clear plot.  I’m looking forward to reading the next installment.

5 of 5 stars