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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe

THE LIBRARIAN OF AUSCHWITZ  by Antonio Iturbe,  translation by Lilit Thwaites
I wanted to love this book.  It is the true story of a 13 year old girl, imprisoned at Auschwitz Concentration Camp, who protects the few books that have been smuggled into the camp. The infamous Doctor Mengle and other well-known Nazis and Resistance workers play supporting roles in what should have been a fascinating and terrifying look at man’s inhumanity to man.  Instead it is almost boring.
The writing is flat, perhaps a problem with the translation.  The characters have no life to them and so the reader is not engaged. Well researched, with a postscript and “what happened to them” appendix that gives the reader the results of the bravery of the resistance workers and prisoners and the cruelty of the Nazis, the book could be a source for history buffs and casual readers. However, as it intended for young adults, the book simply cannot be recommended because of the uninteresting writing.

2 of 5 stars

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

COME SUNDOWN by Nora Roberts

COME SUNDOWN   by Nora Roberts
The only other Nora Roberts (J D Robb) book I have read is her dystopian YEAR ONE.  This is a stand-alone thriller. 
The Bodine Ranch and Resort are both run by a close knit family. Bodine Longbow, the eldest daughter is the focus of the book and the COO of the family enterprise. She is clearly drawn and multidimensional as is Callen Skinner, a new hire and old acquaintance.  Alice, Bodine’s aunt, who has been missing for years is an integral part of the plot as is Sundown, a highly trained and intelligent horse.
When young women start disappearing and then are found murdered in the close vicinity of the ranch, the plot becomes apparent. There are plenty of red herrings, plot twists, love interests and Ranch/Resort complications to keep the reader interested in this 450 page novel. Roberts is a master of the thriller/love story genre and it shows in this outing.

5 of 5 stars for a convincing thriller with likeable characters, interesting locale and pleasing secondary plots.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

AS YOU WISH by Chelsea Sedoti

AS YOU WISH  by Chelsea Sedoti
This teen book asks a lot of heavy questions in a very engaging way. Although the main character is at times a twit, teens will readily identify with him. 
In the desert city of Madison, Nevada, each person upon reaching their 18th birthday , enters the “wishing cave” and makes a wish. Think carefully and pronounce your wish correctly because it will come true just as you speak it.  Some ask for money, some love, some a long time desire, but they all come true.
Eldon’s birthday is quickly approaching. What will he ask for? What would YOU ask for? How will it affect the rest of your life?
Tragedy, morality, selfishness, altruism and more are touched on as Eldon’s Wish Day comes ever closer. Friendship, family, love, despair, happiness, contentment are topics easily discussed after reading this charmingly written book.  Adults will appreciate the questions and wonder about their answers as well.

4 of 5 stars

ESCAPE FROM ALEPPO by H N Senzai

ESCAPE FROM ALEPPO   by N H Senzai
War is terrifying. When you are 15 and suddenly separated from your family in the middle of a desperate flight with family members slated for imprisonment, civil war becomes a terrifying reality.

Nadia, raised in an upper middle class family with all the modern conveniences Americans enjoy, is left in war torn Aleppo on her own after a bombing raid.  Her family is making their way to safety in Turkey.  ESCAPE FROM ALEPPO makes war real while presenting the political realities of an international crisis.  The book does not sugar coat the situations Nadia encounters in her flight from the city.  The situation is realistic. The characters are complex.  The politics are presented from a Syrian’s point of view. The writing and plotting is intense. The devastation in once beautiful and vibrant Aleppo is made clear.

The novel is aimed at Middle Schoolers but might be too intense for this younger group. High schoolers will identify with Nadia, a “modern” teen. This would be a good book for discussion, especially of politics and the repercussions of decisions made by foreign leaders.

5 of 5 stars

Friday, January 12, 2018

THE IMMORTALISTS by Chloe Benjamin

THE IMMORTALISTS  by Chloe Benjamin
THE IMMORTALISTS follows four children throughout their lives. The children visit a woman who tells them their death date. That knowledge compels each of the young people to follow a different pathway through life.  A gay boy who is uncertain of his sexuality and self-worth, a girl who may be suffering from a mental illness and infatuated  by magic, a girl who is intellectually brilliant but socially inept and a boy who is the family’s “golden child” intent on doing everything perfectly make up this group of siblings.
Each one’s story is told in succession with little interaction between the siblings until each one’s death.  Each story is compelling on its own. The characters are well developed.  Each life story has a clear beginning, middle and end. The place and time each sibling’s story covers is detailed and distinct.
An intriguing, well written, and aware novel delineating the difference between belief and science, reality and fantasy.  The choices each sibling makes will resonate long after you finish reading.

5 of 5 stars

Sunday, January 7, 2018

HOST by Robin Cook

HOST  by Robin Cook
Robin Cook usually writes wonderfully interesting medical mysteries. This one – not so much. The story itself was interesting (innocent patients sent into coma and used as drug production bodies); however, the characters were pretty flat and characterless and the ending just – ended. There was no satisfying conclusion or resolution.  Was it terrible – no – it just wasn’t up to his usual excellence.

3 of 5 stars