Fun for Halloween week

halloween

Starting on 26th October, I would like to open my blog up to you the readers.  If you have a poem or short story you wouldn’t mind sharing on the digital highways (it doesn’t matter whether you write full-time or just dabble), I would like to hear from you. I will feature five of them that week to add a little fun and something new to the blog.

To submit your hard work just email them to me at catesbooknuthut@gmail.com and I will get my Husband to read them through.  He will then pick the ones he enjoyed the most to feature on the site that week.

I think this will be fun, and also give an opportunity to those who may be a bit hesitant to reveal their talents a chance to shine.

I look forward to reading your submissions.

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Review: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) ~ Brandon Sanderson

mistbornISBN ~ 978-0765311788
Publisher ~ Tor Books
No. Of Pages ~ 537 pages
Links ~ Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Macmillan

In a world where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with color once more?
In Brandon Sanderson’s intriguing tale of love, loss, despair and hope, a new kind of magic enters the stage – Allomancy, a magic of the metals.

4 Thumbs-UpIf you have a need to be anti-social for a while, and don’t we all at some time or another, this is the book for you and despite its title it is the first in the Mistborn series.  After featuring it in an article of what people might like to read while game of Thrones was off the air, I decided I would give this a try to see if it really was a worthy substitute.

I was immediately pulled into this book from the first line, and soon felt comfortable with characters that I came to regard as the mains in this epic.  There is a strong female who, despite all odds, manages to survive and then actually thrive in this bizarre environment the Author places her in.  Add to this a loveable rogue who teaches her everything she needs to know about using her newly found powers, and this all adds to up characters that readers can connect to and want to follow on their travels. However, not all the characterizations in this book are as well done as these two I have mentioned, some of them were lacking in descriptiveness and I found myself at some points hard pushed to remember their role in the plot.

It is often hard for an Author in this genre to come up with something new and different, but it appears in this book.  The ‘magic’ used in its pages was unique and used items that I had not come across before in other books.  From the way the magic is described and explained it is obvious that a lot of thought went into this system as the Author wrote this book, and it works well as it plays a major part in the action of which there is definitely plenty.  When writing about the battles waged using this magic, the Author was very careful to stick to the rules he had created and applied to it, and there was not a point where I found myself having a ‘hang on, didn’t you say….’ moment.  World building was not skimped on either in this novel, it is not just a strange environment that happens to be there, but has a history behind how it came to being, and this is just as interesting as the plotline itself.

The downside for me whilst reading this was the dialogue, it had a tendency to take the safe road, and use dialogue that can be found in most books of this genre which made some of the conversations a little unbelievable and also, in some cases, as if the book itself were intended for a much younger audience.  However, this was just a minor peeve and didn’t pull away from my enjoyment of the book as a whole.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for an epic fantasy read that will keep them engrossed with every turn of the page.  I will definitely be reading more in this series.

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Review: The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) ~ Rick Riordan

lightning-thiefPercy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school… again. And that’s the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy’s Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he’s angered a few of them. Zeus’ master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus’ stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.

5 Thumbs-UpFirstly let me explain that this is going to be quite a long review as I’ve included information for the interested readers near the bottom of the review.  It’s not something I usually do but change is always good when it helps others.

I have to admit I went into reading this book with the expectation it would be just another shallow copy of the Harry Potter series with names and places changed enough so as not to infringe on the original copyright.  I also wasn’t expecting to enjoy it at all, as I found myself becoming rather bored with Hogwarts after a couple of books.  You can imagine my relief and surprise to find that this book and the following instalments are nothing like the aforementioned wizardry titles and this title, along with the others had me glued to the pages long after I should have gone back to real life.  Yes there are some similarities between the two series, but you really have to look hard and want to find them, but as with most forms of art, and writing is an art, there are very few if any original ideas left out there.

The book is narrated by Percy himself, and at times he sounded more like an aged pessimist than the 16-year-old boy he was supposed to be.  Considering what he had been through in his life, and also knowing some people his age that are like this, I found it to be a great tool the Author used to pull the reader into his story and travel on the journey to find himself with him; and what a journey it is, it is so personal and full of emotion at points that the reader can’t help but become emotionally invested in the character and root for him every step of the way.  It is easy for most readers to connect with this character for a different reason too, whatever he turns his hand, however good his intentions, he just can’t seem to get things right.  The Author is equally generous with all other characters encountered in this book; you love the ‘heroes’ and feel the need to boo and hiss at the villains when they appear on the page.

All Greek mythology should be approached in the way the Author does in this book.  Whilst staying true to the nature of the Gods, they inject humour and irreverence in to the way they have re-imaged and reinterpreted the whole Greek Pantheon.  In a totally off the wall manner everything surrounding the Gods is explained to an audience who may never have come across them before and who, after reading this book will probably be motivated to find out more about them.  The existence of these beings is written in a believable and well explained manner and does great credit to the Author, as research into this topic must have been extensive to enable them to portray mythology in this manner.

As I said at the beginning of this review, it is a little different from others I have written, and a lot longer, and here is the reason why.  The Author is now about to release the last instalment of their Percy Jackson series, and to mark the event they have scheduled a book tour itinerary that I thought might interest those who are fans of the books:

Tuesday, October 7, 2014: Boston/Cambridge-Brookline, MA

Event hosted by:
Porter Square Books
25 White Street
Cambridge, MA 02140
617-491-2220

Location of event:
Temple Ohabei Shalom
1187 Beacon Street
Brookline, MA 02446
617-277-6610

Showtime:
7:00 PM ET

Wednesday, October 8, 2014: Toronto, ONT, Canada

Event hosted by:
Indigo Exclusive

Location of event:
Bloor Street United Church
300 Bloor Street West
Toronto, ON M55 1W3
416-924-7439

Showtime:
7:00 PM ET

Thursday, October 9, 2014: Atlanta/Decatur, GA

Event hosted by:
Little Shop of Stories
133A East Court Square
Decatur, GA 30030
404-373-6300

Location of event:
Glenn Auditorium at Emory
1652 North Decatur Road
Atlanta, GA 30302

Showtime:
7:00 PM ET

Friday, October 10, 2014: New York, NY

Event hosted by:
Books of Wonder
18 West 18th Street
New York, NY 10011
212-989-3270

Location of event:
New York Public Library
Main Branch
Celeste Bartos Forum
5th Avenue at 42nd Street
New York, NY 10018

*Note: 25 branch libraries across the city will also be participating.

Showtime:
4:00 PM ET

Saturday, October 11, 2014: Chicago/Downers Grove, IL

Event hosted by:
Anderson’s Bookshop
5112 Main Street
Downers Grove, IL 60515
630-963-2665

Location of event:
Tivoli Theatre
5021 Highland Avenue
Downers Grove, IL 60515
630-968-0219

Showtime:
4:00 PM CT

Sunday, October 12, 2014: Boulder, CO

Event hosted by:
Boulder Book Store
1107 Pearl Street
Boulder, CO 80302
303-447-2074

Location of event:
Boulder Theatre
2032 14th Street
Boulder, CO 80302

Showtime:
1:30 PM MT

Monday, October 13, 2014: Austin, TX

Event hosted by:
Book People
603 N. Lamar
Austin, TX 78703
512-472-5050

Location of event:
Westlake Community Performing Arts Center
4100 Westbank Drive
Austin, TX 78746

Showtime:
6:00 PM CT

Tuesday, October 14, 2014: Santa Barbara/Ventura, CA

Event hosted by:
Barnes & Noble Ventura #2054
4820 Telephone Road
Ventura, CA 93003
805-339-0990

Location of event:
Buena High School Auditorium (with Ventura Educational Partnership)
5670 Telegraph Road
Ventura, CA 93003

Showtime:
6:00 PM PT

Wednesday, October 15, 2014: San Francisco/Menlo Park, CA

Event hosted by:
Kepler’s
1010 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, CA 94025
650-861-7810

Location of event:
Fox Theatre
2215 Broadway Street
Redwood City, CA 94063

Showtime:
7:00 PM PT

Percy Jackson

I’m a little sad that the readers of so many states will not get a chance to attend one of these events, but if you are interested in the world of Percy Jackson you can always head over to the website and go on an adventure of your own.

I would highly recommend this book and the rest of the series to readers of all ages that are looking to go on an adventure and learn a little at the same time.  These are definitely on my ‘read again’ list.  This is a great book that, if you are not in the target audience of a middle grade reader, will have you feeling like a child just returned from an epic adventure in their blanket fort; and we all need to feed that inner child on a regular basis.

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Review: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (Origami Yoda #1) ~ Tom Angleberger

Origami YodaIT TAKES THE WISDOM OF YODA TO SURVIVE THE SIXTH GRADE

Meet Dwight, a sixth-grade oddball. Dwight does a lot of weird things, like wearing the same T-shirt for a month or telling people to call him “Captain Dwight.” This is embarrassing, particularly for Tommy, who sits with him at lunch every day.

But Dwight does one cool thing. He makes origami. One day he makes an origami finger puppet of Yoda. And that’s when things get mysterious. Origami Yoda can predict the future and suggest the best way to deal with a tricky situation. His advice actually works, and soon most of the sixth grade is lining up with questions.

Tommy wants to know how Origami Yoda can be so smart when Dwight himself is so clueless. Is Yoda tapping into the Force? It’s crucial that Tommy figure out the mystery before he takes Yoda’s advice about something VERY IMPORTANT that has to do with a girl.

This is Tommy’s case file of his investigation into “The Strange Case of Origami Yoda.

5 Thumbs-UpI love reading books aimed at children, well sometimes I do and others I just want to throw my hands up in the air and wonder about the wisdom of the Authors.  With this book this was not the case, this is a great read, and I don’t care that I’m old and crusty with grandchildren, this is a book series I will keep on my shelves and re-read as a pick me up.

If you are a reader that loves Star Wars, or even if you come from the other camp of Trekkers, this book will have you chuckling and making you wonder how you ever made it through 6th grade yourself without the wisdom of Yoda.  If you have no clue who any of the above are, read it just for the sheer enjoyment of being able to be a kid again.  This little piece of fun is also a great way to get middle school children invested in reading, as the whole series pulls on characters they most likely recognise from the movies, and what could be easier than that.

Like most children’s books there are no complex characters to wade through, no diabolical plot lines, this book is just kids being kids and brooding over the major concern of their time; does an origami Yoda really give sound advice that can be followed?  For example: “How do you get out of a potentially embarrassing situation when you’re in the bathroom and you spill water on your pants so that it looks like you peed yourself? Origami Yoda says: “All of pants, you must wet.”   Just based on this I must have an origami Yoda as my advice counselor.  But for all the fun stuff in this book,  the little drawings and side notes as different classmates weigh in on the Origami Yoda conundrum, this book discusses a serious topic in an easy to understand way for children; tolerance.  Just because one person thinks another is strange doesn’t mean we are all going to think that way, and this book is able to covey the wonderfulness of difference and tolerance in a world that is becoming more uniform and intolerant. Don’t over analyse this book (hence the short review) just enjoy it, and when you’re done with it use the diagram at the end to create your very own origami Yoda, I know I am going to make a whole army of them.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone really, and if you’re thinking of reading this in the dark don’t forget to have your trusty lightsaber on hand to help see the pages young Padawan.

“Much to learn you still have.” … “This is just the beginning!” ~Yoda

I will definitely be reading the rest of this series.

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It’s Finally Friday ~ Paul Orshoski

friday

It’s Finally Friday

It’s finally Friday—I’m so glad.
It’s been a crazy week.
I got chewed out on Monday, 
and since then it’s all been bleak.

I lost my lunch on Tuesday,
and a parent went insane,
which shocked me so completely
that I almost popped a vein.

I poked my eye on Wednesday,
and the nurse gave me a shot.
She sent me to the doctor
when I fainted on the spot.

On Thursday I was tardy
’cause I kinda overslept.
And the snack that I was craving 
came up missing in a theft.

And so it’s finally Friday.
No more pencils, no more books.
No more sitting in detention, 
no more teachers’ dirty looks.

By Friday I’m exhausted, 
out of energy and breath.
But that’s the day you’ll hear me shout,
“Rejoice, TGIF!”

And twice a month on Friday,
I remember why I stay:
You see, I am the principal—
that’s when I get my pay.

 

© Paul Orshoski, reprinted from My Teacher’s in Detention

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‘Loss’ ~ Wendy Cope

3108-Antique-Corkscrew-Coasters

Loss

The day he moved out was terrible –
That evening she went through hell.
His absence wasn’t a problem
But the corkscrew had gone as well.

Wendy Cope

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10 Book sequels you probably didn’t, or wished you didn’t, know existed.

We bookish folk are a strange breed; we think nothing of eagerly looking forward to the next instalment or sequel from our favourite Authors, but moan and mutter when Hollywood brings out Mission Impossible XVI (I know we haven’t got that far yet, but it’s coming).  I’ve put together a compilation of several classic stories have strange follow-ups you’ve never heard of, or if you’ve read them may wish you hadn’t.

 

The Starlight barkingTitle ~ The Starlight Barking
Author ~ Dodie Smith
ISBN ~ 9780434964017
Publisher ~ Heinemann (October 1967)

Dodie Smith’s The Hundred and One Dalmatians, later adapted by Disney, was declared a classic when first published in 1956. The Starlight Barking, Dodie’s own long-forgotten sequel, is a thrilling new adventure for Pongo and his family. As the story opens, every living creature except dogs is gripped by an enchanted sleep. One of the original Dalmatian puppies, all grown up since the first novel, is now the Prime Minister’s mascot. Relying on her spotted parents for guidance, she assumes emergency leadership for the canine population of England. Awaiting advice from Sirius, the Dog Star, dogs of every breed crowd Trafalgar Square to watch the evening skies. The message they receive is a disturbing proposition, one that might forever destroy their status as “man’s best friend.”

Comment ~ I have to say I love this book.  The Hundred and One Dalmatians never captured my imagination as a child as much as this one; I read it so many times the cover eventually gave out, while its prequel sat untouched after on e read on my shelf.

 

MessengerTitle ~ Messenger (The Giver Quartet #3)
Author ~ Lois Lowry
ISBN ~ 9780618404414
Publisher ~ HMH Books for Young Readers (April 26th, 2004)

Strange changes are taking place in Village. Once a utopian community that prided itself on its welcome to new strangers, Village will soon be closed to all outsiders. As one of the few people able to travel through the dangerous Forest, Matty must deliver the message of Village’s closing and try to convince Seer’s daughter to return with him before its too late. But Forest has become hostile to Matty as well, and he must risk everything to fight his way through it, armed only with an emerging power he cannot yet explain or understand.

An extremely popular book for middle school students, Lois Lowry’s The Giver has become an instant classic in the 20 years since its publication. Countless children have been assigned essays about how they interpreted the book’s ambiguous ending, but they could have saved some time and just read the book’s two (with a third on the way) sequels instead.

The first sequel, Gathering Blue, is only tangentially related to The Giver by being set in the same universe. However, the following book, Messenger, ties the two together.

 

Jos BoysTitle ~ Jo’s Boys
Author ~ Louisa May Alcott
ISBN ~ 9780448060132
Publisher ~ Grosset & Dunlap (October 1st, 1949: First published 1880)

Better known for her novels Little Women and Little Men, Louisa May Alcott continued the story of her feisty protagonist Jo in this final novel chronicling the adventures and misadventures of the March family. Entertaining, surprising, and overall a joy to read, Jo’s Boys is nevertheless shaded by a bittersweet tone, for with it Alcott brought her wonderful series to an end.

Beginning ten years after Little Men, Jo’s Boys revisits Plumfield, the New England school still presided over by Jo and her husband, Professor Bhaer. Jo’s boys — including rebellious Dan, sailor Emil, and promising musician Nat — are grown; Jo herself remains at the center of this tale, holding her boys fast through shipwreck and storm, disappointment… and even murder.

Popular for more than a century, the series that began with Little Women continues to hold universal appeal with its powerful and affectionate depiction of family — the safe haven where the prodigal can always return, adversity is never met alone, and our dreams of being cherished, no matter what our flaws, come true.

Comment ~ This series was another well loved set of books on my childhood bookcase, and I remember crying almost to the point of hysterics when I came to the end of Jo’s Boys knowing there would be no more.

 

Closing timeTitle ~ Closing Time
Author ~ Joseph Heller
ISBN ~ 9780671746049
Publisher ~ Simon & Schuster (October 1st, 1994)

Thirty-three years and over ten million copies later…the classic story continues.

Yossarian returns — older, if not wiser — to face a new foe.

An instant classic when published in 1961, Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 still ranks among the funniest — and most serious — novels ever written about war. Now Heller has dared to write the sequel to his 10-million copy bestseller, using many of Catch-22’s characters to deftly satirize the realities and the myths of America in the half century since they fought World War II.

In Closing Time, a comic masterpiece in its own right, Heller spears the inflated balloons of our national consciousness — the absurdity of our politics, the decline of society and our great cities, the greed and hypocrisy of our business and culture — with the same ferocious humor that he used against the conventional view of warfare. Back again are characters familiar from Catch-22, including Yossarian and Milo Minderbinder, the chaplain, and little Sammy Singer, as they come to the end of their lives and the end of the century — all linked, this time, in uneasy peace and old age…fighting not the Germans, but The End.

Outrageously funny and totally serious, and as brilliant and successful as Catch-22 itself, Closing Time is a fun-house mirror that captures, at once grotesquely and accurately, the truth about ourselves

 

Paradise RegainedTitle ~ Paradise Regained
Author ~ John Milton
ISBN ~ 9781598181678
Publisher ~ Aegypan (December 1st, 2006)

In purely poetic value, “Paradise Regained” is little inferior to its predecessor. There may be nothing in the poem that can quite touch the first two books of “Paradise Lost” for magnificence; but there are several things that may fairly be set beside almost anything in the last ten. The splendid “stand at bay” of the discovered tempter — “‘Tis true I am that spirit unfortunate” — in the first book; his rebuke of Belial in the second, and the picture of the magic banquet (it must be remembered that, though it is customary to extol Milton’s asceticism, the story of his remark to his third wife, and the Lawrence and Skinner sonnets, go the other way); above all, the panoramas from the mountaintop in the third and fourth; the terrors of the night of storm; the crisis on the pinnacle of the temple — are quite of the best Milton, which is equivalent to saying that they are of the best of one kind of poetry. — The Cambridge History of English and American Literature.

Comment ~ I have to admit I’ve not read either of these; maybe I need to rectify this.

 

Tom SawyerTitle ~ Tom Sawyer, Detective
Author ~ Mark Twain
ISBN ~ 9781598184891
Publisher ~ Aegypan (August 1st, 2006: first published 1896)

“Well, it was the next spring after me and Tom Sawyer set our old nigger Jim free, the time he was chained up for a runaway slave down there on Tom’s uncle Silas’s farm in Arkansaw. The frost was working out of the ground, and out of the air, too, and it was getting closer and closer onto barefoot time every day; and next it would be marble time, and next mumblety-peg, and next tops and hoops, and next kites, and then right away it would be summer and going in a-swimming. It just makes a boy homesick to look ahead like that and see how far off summer is. . . .” Huck Finn tells the tale in “Tom Sawyer, Detective” almost playing the role of a reporter, as he relates what he’s witnessed of a strangely peculiar murder, and tells us of Tom Sawyer’s scene-stealing exploits in the trial that follows. . . . Many of the characters “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” return in this tale, with delightful results

Comment ~ I was not aware there was a series, and enjoyed the Huckleberry Finn and first Tom Sawyer books.  These will now be on my to read list.

 

The winds of taraTitle ~ The Winds of Tara
Author ~ Katherine Pinotti
ISBN ~ 9781401063573
Publisher ~

The Unauthorised Sequel.

The most infamous love affair of all times continues on with The Winds of Tara.

Scarlett O’Hara, headstrong and beautiful, contrives to win back the love of her estranged husband and children. Broken hearted, she returns home to Tara, only to find the plantation in jeopardy by a greedy overseer and her sister’s reputation threatened. Determined to succeed against overwhelming odds, she spins a web of lies and deceit that force her to choose between the man she loves, and breaking a solemn promise that would expose a secret that could destroy her family’s honor forever.

Margaret Mitchell’s beloved Southern romance was not only one of the most famous books of the last century, but also spawned one of the most popular films to boot. The book has four sequels, with varying levels of authenticity. The first, Scarlett, was an authorized sequel by Alexandra Ripley and was widely panned. A second that ignores Scarlett, Rhett Butler’s People, is a re-telling of the original novel from Butler’s point of view by author Donald McCraig.

Then there are the unauthorized sequels: The Wind Done Gone by Alice Randall is a satirical re-telling from the perspective of an O’Hara family slave. Finally, The Winds of Tara by Katherine Pinotti is a direct sequel to the original that the Mitchell family legally blocked from publication in America.

 

The second jungle bookTitle ~ The Second Jungle Book
Author ~ Rudyard Kipling
ISBN ~ 9781853261350
Publisher ~ Wordsworth Classics (1994: first published 1895)

Mowgli, the man-cub who is raised by a wolf-pack, is the main character in The Second Jungle Book which contains some of the most thrilling of the Mowgli stories. It includes “Red Dog”, in which Mowgli and the python Kaa form an unlikely alliance, “How Fear Came” and “Letting in the Jungle” as well as “The Spring Running”, which brings Mowgli to manhood and the realisation that he must leave Bagheera, Baloo, and his other friends for the world of man.

Between each of these marvellously powerful stories Kipling includes some of his most stirring ballads and songs, notably “Mowgli’s Song Against People” and “The Law of the Jungle”

A year after The Jungle Book’s release, Kipling wrote a follow-up book called The Second Jungle Book, featuring five further adventures of Mowgli and his friends. Although Disney made an animated Jungle Book 2 and a live-action film called The Second Jungle Book: Mowgli and Baloo, neither actually follows the plot of The Second Jungle Book.

 

The last ring bearerTitle ~ The Last Ring-Bearer
Author ~ Kirill Yeskov, Yisroel Markov (translator)
ISBN ~
Publisher ~ (2010: first published 1990)

The premise of The Last Ring-Bearer is the proverb “history is written by the victors”, and that the Tolkien account is just that – the history as dictated by the victorious side. In Eskov’s version of the story, Mordor is described as a peaceful country on the verge of an industrial revolution that is a threat to the war-mongering and imperialistic faction represented by Gandalf (whose attitude has been described by Saruman as “crafting the Final Solution to the Mordorian problem”) and the elves.

The story of The Last Ring-Bearer begins at the end of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, as survivors of the defeated Mordor are organizing resistance and trying to save what they can of their civilization. Their story is mixed with another one, set hundreds of years in the future, as archaeologists in a “modern day Middle-earth” are rediscovering their true history, and finding artefacts that shine doubt on the established history known to us from The Lord of the Rings

Comment ~ To be reviewed in 2014

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10 Worthwhile Indie Reads for May

All the light we cannot seeTitle ~ All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel
Author ~ Anthony Doerr
ISBN ~ 9781476746586
Publisher ~ Scribner

Description – Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of the locks (there are thousands of locks in the museum). When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, every house, every manhole, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure’s agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall.

In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at an elite and brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure.

 

Natchez BurningTitle ~ Natchez Burning: A Novel
Author ~ Greg Iles
ISBN ~ 9780062311078
Publisher ~ William Morrow

Description ~ #1 New York Times bestselling novelist Greg Iles returns with his most eagerly anticipated book yet, and his first in five years – Natchez Burning, the first installment in an epic trilogy that weaves crimes, lies, and secret past and present into a mesmerizing thriller featuring Southern mayor and former prosecutor Penn Cage.

 

the steady runningTitle ~ The Steady Running of the Hour: A Novel
Author ~ Justin Go
ISBN ~ 9781476704586
Publisher ~ Simon & Schuster

Description ~ In this mesmerizing debut, a young American discovers he may be heir to the unclaimed estate of an English World War I officer, which launches him on a quest across Europe to uncover the elusive truth.

Just after graduating college, Tristan Campbell receives a letter delivered by special courier to his apartment in San Francisco. It contains the phone number of a Mr. J.F. Prichard of Twyning Hooper, Solicitors, in London and news that could change Tristan’s life forever.

In 1924, Prichard explains, an English alpinist named Ashley Walsingham died attempting to summit Mt. Everest, leaving his fortune to his former lover, Imogen Soames-Andersson. But the estate was never claimed. Information has recently surfaced suggesting Tristan may be the rightful heir, but unless he can find documented evidence, the fortune will be divided among charitable beneficiaries in less than two months.

In a breathless race from London archives to Somme battlefields to the Eastfjords of Iceland, Tristan pieces together the story of a forbidden affair set against the tumult of the First World War and the pioneer British expeditions to Mt. Everest. Following his instincts through a maze of frenzied research, Tristan soon becomes obsessed with the tragic lovers, and he crosses paths with a mysterious French girl named Mireille who suggests there is more to his quest than he realizes. Tristan must prove that he is related to Imogen to inherit Ashley’s fortune but the more he learns about the couple, the stranger his journey becomes.

 

OrendaTitle ~ The Orenda: A Novel
Author ~ Joseph Boyden
ISBN ~ 9780385350730
Publisher ~ Knopf

Description ~ A visceral portrait of life at a crossroads, The Orenda opens with a brutal massacre and the kidnapping of the young Iroquois Snow Falls, a spirited girl with a special gift. Her captor, Bird, is an elder and one of the Huron Nation’s great warriors and statesmen. It has been years since the murder of his family and yet they are never far from his mind. In Snow Falls, Bird recognizes the ghost of his lost daughter and sees the girl possesses powerful magic that will be useful to him on the troubled road ahead. Bird’s people have battled the Iroquois for as long as he can remember, but both tribes now face a new, more dangerous threat from afar.

Christophe, a charismatic Jesuit missionary, has found his calling amongst the Huron and devotes himself to learning and understanding their customs and language in order to lead them to Christ. An emissary from distant lands, he brings much more than his faith to the new world.

As these three souls dance each other through intricately woven acts of duplicity, small battles erupt into bigger wars and a nation emerges from worlds in flux.

 

The serpent of veniceTitle ~ The Serpent of Venice: A Novel
Author ~ Christopher Moore
ISBN ~ 9780061779763
Publisher ~ William Morrow

Description ~ Venice, a long time ago. Three prominent Venetians await their most loathsome and foul dinner guest, the erstwhile envoy of Britain and France, and widower of the murdered Queen Cordelia: the rascal-Fool Pocket.

This trio of cunning plotters-the merchant, Antonio; the senator, Montressor Brabantio; and the naval officer, Iago-have lured Pocket to a dark dungeon, promising an evening of sprits and debauchery with a rare Amontillado sherry and Brabantio’s beautiful daughter, Portia.

But their invitation is, of course, bogus. The wine is drugged. The girl isn’t even in the city limits. Desperate to rid themselves once and for all of the man who has consistently foiled their grand quest for power and wealth, they have lured him to his death. (How can such a small man, be such a huge obstacle?). But this Fool is no fool . . . and he’s got more than a few tricks (and hand gestures) up his sleeve.

 

RubyTitle ~ Ruby: A Novel
Author ~ Cynthia Bond
ISBN ~ 9780804139090
Publisher ~ Hogarth

Description ~ Ephram Jennings has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the long braids running through the piney woods of Liberty, their small East Texas town. Young Ruby, “the kind of pretty it hurt to look at,” has suffered beyond imagining, so as soon as she can, she flees suffocating Liberty for the bright pull of 1950s New York. Ruby quickly winds her way into the ripe center of the city–the darkened piano bars and hidden alleyways of the Village–all the while hoping for a glimpse of the red hair and green eyes of her mother. When a telegram from her cousin forces her to return home, thirty-year-old Ruby Bell finds herself reliving the devastating violence of her girlhood. With the terrifying realization that she might not be strong enough to fight her way back out again, Ruby struggles to survive her memories of the town’s dark past. Meanwhile, Ephram must choose between loyalty to the sister who raised him and the chance for a life with the woman he has loved since he was a boy.

 

TroikaTitle ~ Troika: A Novel
Author ~ Adam Pelzman
ISBN ~ 9780399167485
Publisher ~ Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam

Description ~ Perla is a beautiful young Cuban-American woman who lives with her mother in a modest house in Miami’s Little Havana. After her father’s death, she finds herself leading a secret life.
Julian is from Russia. His father was a legendary Siberian hunter who fell victim to his own bravery. When Julian is forced into an orphanage, he discovers that he has more in common with his father than he originally thought. Taken under the wing of a gruff, elderly businessman, Julian makes his way to New York City . . . and, years later, into the club where Perla is dancing. Soon after they meet, Perla is on a plane to Manhattan at the mysterious request of Julian’s friend—a journey that will change the course of her life.

 

WonderlandTitle ~ Wonderland: A Novel
Author ~ Stacey D’Erasmo
ISBN ~ 9780544074811
Publisher ~ Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Description~ Anna Brundage is a rock star. She is tall and sexy, with a powerhouse voice and an unforgettable mane of red hair. She came out of nowhere, an immediate indie sensation. And then, life happened.Anna went down as fast as she went up, and then walked off the scene for seven years. Without a record deal or clamoring fans, she sells a piece of her famous father’s art to finance just one more album and a European comeback tour.

Anna is forty-four. This may be her last chance to cement her place in the life she chose, the life she struggled for, the life she’s not sure she can sustain. She falls back easily into the ways of the road—sex with strangers, the search for the perfect moment onstage. To see Anna perform is something—watch her find the note, the electric connection with the audience, the transcendence when it all comes together and the music seems to fill the world.

 

All the birds singingTitle ~ All the Birds, Singing: A Novel
Author ~ Evie Wyld
ISBN ~ 9780307907769
Publisher ~ Pantheon

Description ~ Jake Whyte is living on her own in an old farmhouse on a craggy British island, a place of ceaseless rains and battering winds. Her disobedient collie, Dog, and a flock of sheep are her sole companions, which is how she wanted it to be. But every few nights something—or someone—picks off one of the sheep and sets off a new deep pulse of terror. There are foxes in the woods, a strange boy and a strange man, rumors of an obscure, formidable beast. But there is also Jake’s past—hidden thousands of miles away and years ago, held in the silences about her family and the scars that stripe her back—a past that threatens to break into the present. With exceptional artistry and empathy, All the Birds, Singing reveals an isolated life in all its struggles and stubborn hopes, unexpected beauty, and hard-won redemption.

 

LoversTitle ~ Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932: A Novel
Author ~ Francine Prose
ISBN ~ 9780061713781
Publisher ~ Harper

Description ~ A richly imagined and stunningly inventive literary masterpiece of love, art, and betrayal, set in Paris from the late 1920s into the dark years of World War II, that explores the genesis of evil, the unforeseen consequences of love, and the ultimate unreliability of storytelling itself

Emerging from the austerity and deprivation of the Great War, Paris in the 1920s shimmers with excitement, dissipation, and freedom. It is a place of intoxicating ambition, passion, art, and discontent, where louche jazz venues like the Chameleon Club draw expats, artists, libertines, and parvenus looking to indulge their true selves. It is at the Chameleon where the striking Lou Villars, an extraordinary athlete and scandalous cross-dressing lesbian, finds refuge among the club’s loyal patrons, including rising Hungarian photographer Gabor Tsenyi, socialite and art patron Baroness Lily de Rossignol; and caustic American writer Lionel Maine.

As the years pass, their fortunes-and the world itself-evolve. Lou falls desperately in love and finds success as a racecar driver. Gabor builds his reputation with startlingly vivid and imaginative photographs, including a haunting portrait of Lou and her lover, which will resonate through all their lives. As the exuberant 20s give way to the Depression of the 30s, Lou experiences another metamorphosis-sparked by tumultuous events-that will warp her earnest desire for love and approval into something far more sinister: collaboration with the Nazis.

Told in a kaleidoscope of voices that circle around the dark star of Lou Villars, Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 evokes this incandescent city with brio, humor, and intimacy. Exploring a turbulent time defined by terror, bravery, and difficult moral choices, it raises critical questions about truth and memory and the nature of storytelling itself.

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Review: Sweet Holy Motherfucking Everloving Delusional Bastard ~ Jerome Segundo

delusionalAdrift, inexperienced, loveless, and unemployed, recent college grad Jerome Segundo remedies all these deficiencies simultaneously upon landing a job and striking up a romance with a coworker. His consort, slightly older chronologically but infinitely more sophisticated and experienced, exposes him to the delights of cuisine, culture, and sex (occasionally in tandem). Their relationship blossoms and his world opens up—until a sexual assault charge brings it crashing down.

4 Thumbs-UpHowever you may feel about the type of language that the Author chose to use in his title please, whatever else you may think do not think that this is a book written by a person who cannot string a coherent sentence together.  It does, however, leave me in a quandary as how to actually review this novel, as it’s not quite like anything I’ve read before.

To be taken at face value this book would appear to be the ramblings of someone not quite in their right mind, but when the reader begins to look deeper into the text they see it is the memoir of the Author, warts and all.  To be honest trying to review this book is difficult because of the nature of the memoir, and to delve too deeply into the book would ultimately reveal too much of what is in its pages.

This is a memoir that has been penned by a man with a definite gift for writing, and despite it often dark passages there are some truly humourous moments contained within its covers.  There are large amounts of sexual content in this book, and it is very graphic in nature; to be honest though this lends more to the telling of the Authors life than any other vehicle used in the book, and without it the reader would have been possibly left scratching their head in bewilderment.  Is it a book that will offend some, absolutely.  It is also a book that will make the reader realize that gross miscarriages of justice in our ‘perfect’ world can, and do, take place and with long reaching consequences to those who have been subject to its bite.

This is definitely not a light read, but I recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading memoirs of people other than those the media say we should worship.

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Review: Hunting Sweetie Rose: A Mystery ~ Jack Fredrickson

SweetieSweetie Fairbairn, the doyenne of Chicago society, is known for big-hearted philanthropy and magnificent soirees in her penthouse high atop one of the city’s premier boutique hotels. Dek Elstrom is hired by a mysterious man in a long limousine to investigate the death of a clown. Was it suicide—or murder? What is the connection between the dead clown and Sweetie?

Part of the ‘A Book from every State of the Union’ Reading Challenge – Illinois.

5 Thumbs-UpI came across this novel while I was searching my library for books to include in my 2014 reading challenge; it was the only one by this Author on their shelves and immediately cried out to me.  Heeding that cry, I brought it home… am I glad I did.

The main protagonist is everything there is to love, and hate, in the character of a private detective, or should that be insurance investigator; to find out what this means you’ll have to read the book.  He is full of the dry sarcastic wit and one-liners that a lover of a traditional mystery novel will find to their taste.  He is, or thinks he is, invincible, not easy fooled and a tough guy to boot; but really as we find out as his character develops in this novel, he is more than a little vulnerable. There is so much about this man that reminded me of Philip Marlowe, that I wasn’t but a few chapters into this novel before I found myself really rooting for the guy, and wanting everything to go his way.  There are a cast of supporting characters for our main to play off against, but rather than let his main character overshadow them, the Author does an excellent job of making sure that the others he encounters either bring out the best him in, stop him from totally self-destructing, or really bring out his hard side; whatever their role they are written with equal parts of grit and humour and enough realism to make the reader feel as if they actually lived.

The plot is quirky and funny wrapped up in a pretty page turning mystery that will keep you guessing to the end.  I finished this book in one sitting, and when I finally came to the closure of the plot all I could wonder was ‘how the heck did I not see that coming’.  The Author is also able to inject a touch of realism into the locations of his novel by throwing the reader pieces of plot that link to past, or current, news items.  Normally I don’t like this in the fiction I read as I hate being distracted from a good plot by the feeling I’ve seen this in the paper, but that was not the case here.  I think the difference between this novel and others that I’ve read that attempted this was the fact that this Author wrote about these events with the same with as he did his plot.

A downside to this book, I found, was that it actually the third in a series containing this protagonist; however, this did not make me like the book any less or feel I was missing out on anything, as it works just as well as a standalone novel.  What this discovery did achieve however, was to ensure that I will be reading more by this Author.

If you are looking for a writer who has a similar style to Raymond Chandler, I highly recommend this novel.  If you’re looking for a good traditional mystery, well see the sentence above this one.

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