Friday, December 30, 2011

A Race for Gold!

Gold Train by Lada Ray is a thriller based on actual events.  During the Russian Revolution the entire gold reserve of the Russian Empire disappears while being transported by train.  It is still missing.

Jade Snow is a veteran reporter who returns to work after maternity leave to help in an investigation of the Gold Train story and the possible whereabouts of the gold.  The request for help comes from a Russian journalist who has extensively studied the history of it.  She jumps at the opportunity to work again and also to explore her Russian heritage.

Once in Russia she connects with old acquaintances of her grandmother who are all members of a society for Russian nobility.  Their main interest is in returning the Russian Empire to noble rule.

When the journalist that sent for her is found murdered the chase is on.  Everyone is on a hunt to find the gold first.  Everyone has their own reasons for acquiring the gold.

As the circle of conspirators tightens Jade must struggle to keep at the head of the chase.  Along the way she encounters a man who just might be here soul mate and passions ignite.

Gold Train is a fast paced thrill ride filled with great characters you will love and villains you will hate.  And maybe a few you won't know whether to love or hate.  This is definitely one to read!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Rapid Fire Short!

The Real Buck's Fizz, by J. E. Hood, is a rapid paced short story that has a bit of everything in it.  Jake Andrews likes to lay low and not get involved.  He enjoys his vintage cars and motorcycles and tries to keep the rest of life uncomplicated.

After his girlfriend leaves him he meets Beth.  She's beautiful and engaging and loaded with issues.  Jake quickly gets caught up in the whirlwind of her life.

The story will keep you turning pages to discover just how things turn out!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Murder in a Small Town

Wendy L. Young's debut novel, "Come the Shadows" is the first installment of the Campbell Creek series.  The story is set in the small town of Campbell Creek, North Carolina which lies in the shadow of Wilmington.  It's a quiet close-knit community that hasn't had a murder in seventeen years.  Until now.

Officer Will Harmon goes to investigate the skeleton that is found at the long defunct bread factory.  His sister Jessica is the medical examiner and her examination of the remains leads to a conclusion of murder.  The sheriff has other ideas and reports the death as natural causes. Jessica continues to pursue the murder investigation with the off the record help of her brother and his partner Ricky.

There are land developers in town buying up property, including the bread factory for a big, as yet undisclosed development.  As the neighbors start selling out rapidly, Laura, Will's wife, becomes concerned for the future of their community and begins to fight the developers.  When mysterious fires erupt and Laura's life is threatened there is no telling how deep the mystery lies.

This is a great mystery that starts a little slow but once it takes off it will keep the pages turning rapidly.  The characters are real, charming and sometimes humorous.  The relationships amongst the characters are well developed and draw you in.

I, for one, am looking forward to the second installment!

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Compelling Debut!

Brina Courtney's debut novel Reveal (Cryptid Tales) is a wonderful YA read that will appeal to a larger audience.

The story is about Shay, a high school senior, who has the ability to see, hear and talk to ghosts.  She feels very much alone as a result of this ability.  Jeremy, a ghost, has been with her since her father disappeared/died many years ago.  In recent months, Jeremy has been absent and Shay is not sure why.

Enter Hugh, who is a 'cryptid', which is to say - part human, part animal.  They have more in common then Shay realizes.  She quickly learns that she is cryptid through her father and that is the source of her ghostly powers.  As she learns to harness these powers and what they mean their relationship develops.

Together they begin a quest to discover what really happened to Shay's father and how to protect themselves going forward.

This was a great debut novel in a series.  The ending will make you want to email Brina to hurry up and share book 2!  I highly recommend it for any young adults and any adults who enjoy a good spooky tale.

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Change in Direction

Here, Home, Hope by Kaira Rouda is great story about a woman finding herself, at the age of 30, to be in a crisis of sorts.  Kelly had a recent breast cancer scare and finds herself suddenly fearful.  Her comfortable life just doesn't fit right anymore. 

Her two growing boys are away at camp for the entire summer and with her nest empty she realizes she needs to make changes in her life.  She starts her Things to Change (T2C) list and leaves post-its with list items around her house and the dashboard of her car.  Her list continues to grow as she opens up to new experiences.

At the same time she realizes that her friends' lives are not as wonderful and serene as they seem on the outside.  Charlotte has fallen in love with another friend's husband.  Kathryn is in crisis and leaves her anorexic teenager in Kelly's care while she tries to regroup.  As if all these dramas weren't enough, Kelly begins her own business.  Everyone rallies around to help each other.

The changes in her attitude and the direction of her life are exciting and empowering.

Kaira's writing is witty and vibrant.  You will laugh, cry and cheer along the characters.

This is a great novel for anyone who enjoys a story of growth, empowerment and positive endings.

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Thrilling Trip Through Time!

Julia Hughes' debut novel, "A Ripple in Time - Angel of the Titanic" is a wonderful novel with a unique concept.  It's not your every day time travel story.

The story begins in the present day with Wren's dreams intertwining with the dreams of Carina, who is a passenger on the Titanic.  As a result of this entanglement she learns from Wren's mind what actually happens to the ship she is sailing on.  She warns  the captain and disaster is averted.  Or is it?

The change in the course of history from this ripple in the fabric of time results in a different world that is darker and much less advanced.  World War I has never ended and has become a 'cold war'.  Women still do not vote and life is hard.

Wren knows that he needs to make things right again.  He enlists the help of his cousin Rhyllann and Carrie, who is a descendent of Carina.  He shares a special mental bond with Carrie and they grow close along the way.

Once they make it on to the Titanic the difficulty lies in allowing the crash to occur and not changing the original history.

This is truly a fascinating read!  I loved the whole concept of the altered reality.  The pace and action kept me rooted to the pages.  There was a little bit of everything in it.  Love, danger, humor and fantasy.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bullies Beware!

Invisible by Jeanne Bannon is a delightful tale of one teenager's struggle against the stigma of being different than the crowd.  Lola is a senior in high school and not only does she not fit in there, she doesn't fit in her own family. Her parents and sister are all tiny, willowy and wacky.  Lola, is a tall, big girl with a penchant for writing.

When Lola experiences a particularly cruel attack by the school bullies she disappears.  She struggles to figure out what happened until it happens a second time and she shares the secret with her beloved Grandma Rose.  She is able to explain to Lola what is happening to her.

Lola's best friend, Charlie, another social outcast at school, helps her gain control of her power to disappear.  Together they plot revenge on the bullies.  When tragedy strikes, Lola must decide what course of action she will take into the future.

This is a great story that anyone who's ever gone through the teen years can enjoy.  Who hasn't wanted to disappear at some point?  The lessons are valuable and uplifting.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Debut Hits It Out Of The Park

There's been a lot of talk about Chad Harbach's debut novel, The Art of Fielding.  After reading it, I understand why.  It's a wonderful story with characters you can embrace and care about.  The writing draws you into their world and makes you feel a part of it.

Henry Skrimshander is a short-stop with big-league potential.  Mike Schwartz discovers Henry at an away game and is mesmerized by his ability.  He recruits Henry to his school, Westish College, on the shores of Lake Michigan.  There he works with him over the next few years to make him into an all-round athlete.

At the school, Henry rooms with Owen Dunne, another player on the team. Owen is brilliant, witty and gay.  Henry envies his confidence as he moves in the world.

The school's president is Guert Affenlight, who's claim to fame is a book he wrote on Herman Melville and Moby Dick after discovering that Melville had given a lecture at the school.  Westish embraced all things Melville, even naming the baseball team the Harpooners.

Guert's daughter, Pella, arrives at the school to stay with her father after fleeing a bad marriage.  She hopes to make a fresh start and get back to her studies.

As the lives of these five intertwine and relationships develop the complexity of the characters is revealed.  Their failures and insecurities make them real.  When Henry makes an errant throw it shakes more then Henry's confidence.  It shakes the very foundation of all their lives.

Harbach spins an enthralling tale that will hold you spellbound to the very end.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bikers, Intrigue & Life Lessons for the YA

Eileen Schuh's "The Traz" which is the first novel in the BackTracker series is a compelling read that will keep you turning pages.
The heroine, Katrina, is orphaned at 13 and left with nowhere to go and no one to turn to.  She is brilliant (a member of Mensa), wealthy and beautiful.  She meets Shrug, a much older biker and member of the The Traz motorcycle gang. 

She goes with him to live at the Traz's compound in the backwoods of Alberta.  At the compound Shrug protects her from the other gang members but uses her intelligence and youth to discover intel on the gang and their drug dealings. 

With what she has learned about the gang's dealings she realizes she will never be able to leave the compound alive.  That's when Chad, an undercover cop joins the gang.  Will he be her ticket out?

This is a great novel with some life lessons to be learned.  It is classified as Young Adult but adults will enjoy it too!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Not Happily Ever After

Bonnie Trachtenberg's "Wedlocked" begins the day of Rebecca and Craig's marriage.  The wedding and reception are one disaster after another.  From the nephew kicking a hole in the wedding cake to Rebecca hearing never before revealed dark secrets about her new husband.

Bonnie then takes us back in time to Rebecca's youth and the path her life took to lead her to that moment at the altar next to a man she's not sure she knows - let alone loves. Her love of acting takes her from the theaters of New York to the studios in Los Angeles. Her experiences there eventually force her back to New York where she meets Craig when she is at her most vulnerable.

After the wedding comes the honeymoon from hell.  A fairy tale trek through Italy that is more Brothers Grimm than Cinderella. Although a knight in shining armor arrives to help Rebecca in her time of need.

You'll laugh, you'll cry but most of all you'll enjoy the journey with this wonderful character.

It's a great story. I did find it a little slow through some of the Hollywood section but overall a very strong debut by Bonnie.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

This Devil Will Surprise You

Another great read! The Devil Stood Up by Christine Dougherty is packed with chilling images, heartrending drama and a Devil you may actually root for.

A woman brutally murders her child and a lawyer with far-reaching political ambitions manages to get her set free. The heinous nature of the crime and lack of justice attracts the Devil's notice. The Devil decides he must stand up for the poor child and comes to earth. He's determined to track down the arrogant lawyer and bring him to hell for early punishment. Once here he encounters a cast of characters who are either determined to send him back to Hell or aid him in his search for justice.

A word of warning - this novel is not for the easily squeamish. The murder the child is brutal and extremely disturbing. That being said, Christine has created a brilliant story with characters that come alive. Some you'll hate and some you'll love. The story twists and turns and keeps you guessing.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Great Debut Novel

I just finished Blue Straggler by Kathy Lynn Harris and thoroughly enjoyed it.  The title comes from an astronomy term for a star that has an anomalous blue color and appears to be disconnected from the stars around it.  It is the perfect title, since it so aptly describes the main character, Bailey.

Bailey feels disconnected from her family, friends and even herself.  When she loses her job unexpectedly she decides to head to Colorado and see if she can make a connection to herself by researching what made her great grandmother abandon her family and move to a small town in the mountains of Colorado.The people she meets there and the experiences she has help her see what she truly needs.

The characters are great - both quirky and believable at the same time.  The novel is a great read, providing both hilarious moments and tender, poignant ones.  I definitely recommend it for anyone looking for a little adventure with some great and memorable characters.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Gripping Thriller

Russell Blake's "Fatal Exchange" was a thrill ride that gripped me from the first chapter. The plot twists and turns and keeps you guessing.

It begins with a watch dealer who sells a million dollars worth of watches to an Asian businessman. When it turns out the bills are counterfeit the game is on. The counterfeiters, a foreign government,  realize some less than perfect bills are out and they want them back before anyone knows they exist.  Enter the Asian hit team.

Tess, a bicycle courier, is the daughter of the watch dealer and when her father is murdered and the bodies start stacking up she realizes she's probably next.

Throw in a serial killer that is targeting female bike messengers and you have one more twist in the plot.  Blake ties it all together brilliantly in a turn you won't see coming. 

The characters are quirky and fun.  It's a definite must read.  I for one, can't wait to read more of Blake's novels.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A YA Just In Time for Halloween

I just finished a fun YA read by Laura A. H. Elliott called "13 On Halloween".  It is the first novel in Laura's new Teen Halloween Series.  Judging by the first book, it will be a series to follow.

The story revolves around Roxie who has entered middle school and is hoping to catapult herself into the popular crowd at school with a party for her thirteenth birthday, which falls on Halloween.  A party her parents don't know she is having and wouldn't permit if they knew.  She invites all of the popular kids that she admires and is thrilled when they all show up.

They give Roxie a unique gift which is literally out of this world.  Laura has crafted an alternate reality which is both believable and spooky at the same time. Ultimately, the gift will teach her that you should be careful what you wish for and that 'popularity' is not all it's cracked up to be.

Roxie is a great character with a language all her own and with problems most of us can relate to. Her experiences teach her lessons that we all need to remember.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

War Story

Amanda Hodgkinson's "22 Britannia Road" is a compelling post war story.  Silvana and Janusz are reuniting in England in 1946 after having been separated for 6 long years by the war.

They were living in Warsaw with their son, Aurek, when the invasion began.  Janusz left them to join up with Polish and Russian forces to fight the Germans.  As a result of a bombing raid he doesn't make it to the army post and decides to abandon the army. This begins his journey towards France.  Eventually he does join the British army and settles in a small English village after the war.  At that point he sends for his wife and child.

Meanwhile, Silvana and Aurek fled Warsaw ahead of the Germans.  They wandered the countryside looking for somewhere safe to wait out the war.  They ended up living with a band of fellow refugees in the forest that were hiding from the soldiers.  Eventually they were left, just the two of them, to live off what the forest provided.

As they come together post-war they must try and mesh their lives together.  Each harbors secrets of what happened to them during the war.  They both struggle with the urge to tell and the urge to keep silent.

The story switches between the present (1946) time at 22 Britannia Road and their separate wartime experiences.  Will they be able to put aside the past and forge a new life together?  The novel is rather haunting in it's descriptions of that war torn era.  The mixing of the past and present builds the momentum that keeps the pages turning in a need to discover the truth.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fighting Crime

Zach Fortier's "CurbChek" is a gritty, fictional account of actual calls that Zach was assigned to during a 28 year career as a police officer.  The novel is written in the style of a memoir and takes you into the day to day life of an officer on the streets.  They see the darker side that most of us, hopefully, never encounter.

We're shown the precinct politics and pecking orders that make an already difficult job even more complicated.  The cases span his career and illustrate the change in mindset from a rookie cop to a veteran on the force.  There's everything from domestic violence, drug gangs and drive-by's to prostitution and date rape.  Zach uses common sense and compassion with the criminals to defuse situations as opposed to escalating them with hotheaded heavy handedness.

"CurbChek" definitely gives you a greater appreciation for what our police officers encounter while keeping our communities safe.  It's a fascinating read and I recommend it to anyone interested in learning what it would be like to be on the ground fighting crime and keeping us safe.

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Taste of Terror

If you like being scared and you like short stories, you need to read Jeff Bennington's "Murdoch's Eyes"!  It starts with a date that turned bad for Gina.  She hadn't known the good looking man with the brilliant green eyes would end up being so freaky.  She flees the party but somehow Murdoch is in her mind and controlling her. Things rapidly go from bad to worse and she ends up in his lair where she encounters his very deformed brother.  What is she there for?  What will happen next?

I never spoil a story so you will need to read it to find out.  It's well worth it.  There's a bit of everything - creepiness, deformities, paranormal powers, strong minded heroine.  You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Rollicking Good Fun

I just finished "Red Mojo Mama", by Kathy Lynn Hall and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Lydia "Red" Talbot, has just inherited a mobile home park in Northern California from her dear aunt.  Still recovering from the loss of her husband/soul mate three years prior, Red moves to California intending to sell the mobile home park and put the proceeds to traveling adventures.

Once there, however, she becomes caught up in the lives of the park's occupants.  They are a delightful mix of quirky characters with tales of their own.  In an effort to put her time to good use she takes a job with the local paper as a reporter.  Her first assignment is to cover the local city council meeting.  There she discovers corruption and greed which leads her on and investigative mission to save the town from the shysters.

It is a fun story that has romance, intrigue, laughter, tears and a wonderful cast of well drawn characters.  The pacing keeps you turning the pages to see what will happen next.  I love "Red" and hope to hear more from her in the future.  A must read if you enjoy a great female lead that's real and relate-able.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Things Are Not Always What They Seem

I recently read "Dreams of Joy", by Lisa See which is the sequel to "Shanghai Girls".  The novel picks up where "Shanghai Girls" left off.  Joy had just discovered that her mom, Pearl, was really her aunt and that Aunt May was actually her mother.  The man she believed was her father had killed himself and she felt responsible for his death.  With all of this turmoil she flees to China to find her biological father, Z.G.

The time period of the novel is 1950's and communism has taken root in China.  Joy embraces the communist ideal and travels to the countryside with her father to teach art to the peasants.  There she meets a local man and they fall in love and marry.  Living in the isolated village and beholden to the whims of Mao in building the new China she begins to see that communism doesn't work as well as she thought.

Meanwhile, May goes to China to try and find Joy.  She eventually finds her and after Joy marries she stays on to be closer to her.  Not too mention that it is almost impossible to leave China. Eventually Z.G. and May must try to rescue Joy together.

I really enjoyed the book and learned quite a bit from it.  I'd never really read anything significant related to communist China and was amazed to learn just how crazy things got there and how many people died of starvation.

I'd recommend reading both novels, but, this one can definitely stand alone as well.  Enjoy!

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Friday, September 2, 2011

A Tale of Love & Loss

"The Gifted Ones", by Lisa Vaughn is a haunting coming of age memoir.  It follows Lisa as she discovers love while learning who she is and what she really wants.  At times heartrending, it is also humorous, honest and compelling.

She describes the joys and heartbreaks of a relationship that begins in secret at the tender age of 13 and somehow flourishes despite the many obstacles and struggles that it bears.  It is  Lisa and Selina against the world.  As Lisa so succinctly puts it, "How could loving someone be wrong?".

Lisa reminds us of how our dreams, desires and ambitions change as we grow up and attain adulthood.  The loves and friends we make along the way are not necessarily growing in the same direction.  Broken hearts hurt no matter who you love and time does somehow heal the wounds.

It is brilliantly paced with teasers at the end of many chapters that kept me turning pages well past when I should have been sleeping.  Two bookmarks up from this reviewer.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Classic Detective Novel Swedish Style

The popularity of the Stieg Larsson trilogy has led to a number of northern European novelists gaining popularity in the U.S. market.  Among them is Henning Mankell.  I recently read the first novel in his Wallander series entitled "Faceless Killers".

The story begins with a brutal double murder of an elderly couple living on a remote farm outside of a small Swedish town.  Inspector Wallander is the lead detective on the case and the last word of the farmer's wife, "foreign", leads him to the nation's refugee camps and beyond.

It was interesting to learn from the novel the current immigration issues in Sweden and how the influx has changed the society as well as the types of crime that are now occurring there.  Drug trafficking, gun running and violent crime are all on the rise.  As is anti-foreign sentiment.

Kurt is a dedicated detective whose personal life is in disarray.  His wife has left him and his daughter is estranged and rebellious.  The back story provides a fleshed out character that you will want to meet again in the rest of the series.

The plot twists and turns and keeps you guessing.  No spoilers from me so I will leave it to you to discover the killers.

I'll be reading book two for sure.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Dark Tale of Disillusion

I requested "Caribou Island", by David Vann, from the e-library a number of months ago, so by the time I actually checked it out I'd forgotten what it was going to be about.  With an ebook there isn't a back cover or inside jacket to peak at for the synopsis so I just dove in.  Chilly waters!!

The story is about the thirty year marriage of Gary and Irene coming undone.  Gary's life is a litany of diverted plans, botched schemes and failed dreams.  Irene is haunted by a tragic past and is dealing with a mysterious illness. She senses that Gary is trying to leave her in some way.

The setting is the isolated, prehistoric wilderness of the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska.  Winter is rapidly approaching and Gary is determined to build a cabin on the even more remote Caribou Island.  It symbolizes redemption for him. As with all Gary's ideas, there is very little planning for the construction and it seems doomed from the beginning.  Irene attempts to help in the construction despite knowing that it isn't going to work and that they aren't going to be able to survive a winter out there.

Vann's prose is spare and dark.  He vividly paints a scene of desolation, despair and unravelling psyches.  His words pull you into that stark Alaskan landscape.  It's a very powerful and moving book.  I do recommend it as a great read, but, please know that it is not going to be a light romp.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Mysteries Abound!

Last week I read "The Distant Hours" by Kate Morton.  It is the first of her novels that I read and I will be going back for more!

The story weaves itself around events at Milderhurst Castle in 1941 and the impact that they continue to have in the present, 1992. 

Edie Burchill's mother, Meredith, was sent to live at Milderhurst when the blitz began in London.  It was a time when many frightened parents sent their children to live with strangers in the English countryside to keep them safe from the nightly bombings in London.

Young Meredith ends up with the Blythe sisters, Percy, Saffy and Juniper.  They are all wildly eccentric after having been raised mainly by their father, a famous author, Raymond Blythe who was slipping into madness.  There is a history of mental illness and tragedy surrounding the family.

Edie first learns of this when her mother receives a letter in the mail that had been lost since 1941.  Her mother's emotional reaction to the contents of the letter and the revelation of her mother's time at the castle leave Edie burning with questions.

She unexpectedly finds herself near Milderhurst Castle and so begins her search to unveil the mysteries of what happened to her mother back then.  She meets the Sisters Blythe and discovers the youngest, Juniper, has slipped into a madness all her own.  The trigger for her madness was the disappearance of her loved one back in 1941.  Mysteries and secrets abound.

Morton adeptly transports the reader back and forth between past and present from the viewpoints of the various players in the mystery.  She builds tension with the different clues revealed by each characters experiences.  The characters are richly drawn and believable.  Each chapter compels you on to the next.  A definite must read!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

All About Secrets

A recent read was "A Secret Kept" by Tatiana de Rosnay (author of Sarah's Key - now in theaters).  I'd read "Sarah's Key" last year and found the story compelling and engrossing.  "A Secret Kept" was not quite at the same level but still a very good read.

The story begins when Antoine surprises his sister, Melanie, with a trip to Noirmoutier for her fortieth birthday.  Noirmoutier is an island in France where the family had vacationed each summer up until 1973.  The mother died shortly after that last trip.  She disappeared from her children's lives after her death because she was never spoken of by any of the family and all her pictures disappeared.  The mystery is why this was so.

During the weekend trip Melanie's memory is triggered and she is troubled by her memories.  As she is about to tell Antoine what she remembered on the way home she loses control of the car and they are in a violent wreck.

Antoine becomes gripped with discovering what really happened that last summer spent at Noirmoutier, who his mother really was and what happened the day she died.  The secrets that the family had kept for far too long need to be revealed.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Tempest in Boston

In the novel, "Faith", Jennifer Haigh tackles the abuse scandal in the Catholic church.  The story begins  in Boston during the implosion of the archdiocese as a result of numerous allegations against many priests throughout the city.  The focus is on the Irish Catholic McGann family. 

Art, the oldest child, now in his 50's is a beloved pastor of a large and active parish when he is suddenly accused of misconduct.  Haigh keeps the suspense going by not revealing what the charges are.

Sheila, the sister, has remained close to Art through the years, although she is estranged from the rest of the family.  She joins her brother during his ordeal but is disturbed by his dodging of the questions she asks.

Mike is the other brother.  He is married with boys of his own and is shocked and appalled by the allegations and distances himself from Art.

There are many questions and have been for many years.  Uncovered will be a history of silence and repression and misdeeds that went unpunished.

It's a gripping novel and not at all what you think it will be.   I definitely recommend it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Take a Road Trip with "The Borrower"

"The Borrower", by Rebecca Makkar, is a fun read.  It tells the tale of Lucy, a children's librarian, in a small city in the mid-west.  She's somewhat adrift after graduating college and takes the library position rather than rely on her successful parents' contacts.

At the library she meets Ian, who is a voracious reader and advanced for his age.  He is constantly sneaking out books that his mother disapproves of.  The more is an evangelical christian, afraid to expose her son to anything but the church's doctrine. 

She is concerned her son is gay and enrolls her son in anti-gay classes that will remove any gayness from him.

Ian rebels and that is when Lucy's and Ian's  journey from Missouri to Vermont begins.  Their experiences along the way and the decisions they make lead the reader on an adventure. 

Two thumbs up from this reader!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Coming of Age

For anyone who grew up in the 70's, JoAnn Beard's "In Zanesville" will resonate.  It's a coming of age story about a 14 year old girl who is a late bloomer and firmly ensconced in the role of side-kick.

The story takes place over the course of a year in a small mid-western city.  There's the clique of popular girls, a new interest in the opposite sex and all the changes that happen as new experiences unfold.  Moving from the cusp of girlhood into womanhood.

A great read!

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Batch of Bios

Normally I prefer to read fiction, but recently I've read some really great biographies.  They were fascinating and rich with detail.  All of them page-turners for the most part.

The first one was "The Maybelline Story", by Sharrie Williams.  It detailed the history of the Maybelline dynasty from it's beginnings in 1911 up until the current day.  The family members are all very much characters and the story reads like a soap opera.  It even had a bit of mystery to it.  Definitely two thumbs up from this reader.

Not too long after that the next bio was "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot.  This is the story of how one woman's cancerous cell biopsy lead to the first cell cultures being grown.  From there they go around the world and are involved in an incredible number of discoveries and developments in the fields of science and medicine.  It also details the lives of her children and how they felt when they discovered what had been taken from their mother and how it had been used.  Again, it was written to keep you turning those pages.  Excellent read!

The last one was "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand.  This was my favorite.  It tells the story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who goes on to serve in the air force during World War II.  He is shot down over the Pacific and survives for 47 days on a life raft only to be 'rescued' by the Japanese.  The account of his time as a POW is amazing.  Laura's handling of the story is vivid and compelling.  I highly recommend this read to one and all.