Such an unusual book! Flora is a bee, born to the lowest rank in the hive hierachy, a Sanitation worker. Sanitation bees have no tongue, and do the me...moreSuch an unusual book! Flora is a bee, born to the lowest rank in the hive hierachy, a Sanitation worker. Sanitation bees have no tongue, and do the menial and unsavory tasks of cleaning the hive and disposing of the dead. And yet, from the day of her Emergence, Flora is different. She is larger than the other of her kind and she speaks. Saved from death by a Sage priestess, Flora learns about different areas of the hive, becoming first a Nursery bee, and later a Forager. Eventually her "otherness" is the means by which the hive is both destroyed and saved. Told entirely from Flora's perspective as a bee, Laline Paull creates a believable portrait of life inside the hive. It's clear she has studied bees and their habits too. I was enthralled by the novel, and couldn't put it down. This would be a great book club book too, with lots of avenues for discussion!(less)
Verity Grey is persuaded to head to Scotland to work on the excavation of a possible Roman legionary fort. Although the dig leader has the reputation...moreVerity Grey is persuaded to head to Scotland to work on the excavation of a possible Roman legionary fort. Although the dig leader has the reputation of being a crackpot, she decides to throw her support behind the dig. As the excavations begin, Verity becomes acquainted with a very attractive co-worker, and romance ensues. She also becomes acquainted with the Sentinel, the ghost of one of the Roman soldiers. Smuggling, an old lover, and dysfunctional family squabbles round out the story. I've read a number of Susanna Kearsley books, and this one was not one of her best. But it was an enjoyable read.(less)
I didn't realize until I read the author's note, that this was completely a work of fiction; the narrator's voice was so convincing that I thought it...moreI didn't realize until I read the author's note, that this was completely a work of fiction; the narrator's voice was so convincing that I thought it was a fictionalized account of the author's family history. Bohjahlian makes an appalling period of history very real. The Armenian genocide is not well-known. Armen Petrosian, an Armenian engineer, has lost his wife and child in the atrocities. In Aleppo, he meets Elizabeth Endicott, an American relief worker, and they fall in love. Their story is revealed through their letters and journals, as their granddaughter researches their lives. It's a haunting story.
I've been on a Susanna Kearsley kick lately, and this is another one that doesn't disappoint. Emily is persuaded to take a holiday in France near Chin...moreI've been on a Susanna Kearsley kick lately, and this is another one that doesn't disappoint. Emily is persuaded to take a holiday in France near Chinon castle which was once the home of England's king John and his wife Isabella. It fell to the French however, and legend says that Isabella hid a great treasure in one of the many tunnels under the castle. Emily's cousin Harry, a Plantagent expert, is convinced that he can find the treasure. However, when Emily arrives, Harry is nowhere to be found. Emily tries to enjoy her holiday but her worry about her missing cousin grows with two suspicious deaths. This is the first novel of Kearsley's that I've read that contains no time travel or other-worldly experiences. It does contain some suspense and romance, and I liked both her characters and a couple of twists in the plot. I have really been enjoying this author!(less)
I really enjoy books about famous people about whom I know little. In this case, Nancy Horan depicts the life of Fanny Osborn and her marriage to Robe...moreI really enjoy books about famous people about whom I know little. In this case, Nancy Horan depicts the life of Fanny Osborn and her marriage to Robert Louis Stevenson. This fictionalized saga starts with Fanny's arrival in Antwerp. She and her children have left her ne'er -do-well husband in America to start a new life as an art student. Her dream is quickly smashed when first her application to art school is denied, and then a devastating loss almost destroys her. Eventually she recovers her equilibrium, meeting Robert Louis Stevenson, and embarking on a romance with him. The two share a peripatetic life as they seek climates conducive to Stevenson's tuberculosis. This is also a story of resilience as time after time, Fanny's ambitions are thwarted by circumstances, and by her husband's fame.
I'm glad I read this after school finished for the year, because I had a hard time putting it down! As with her previous book Loving Frank, her storytelling is gripping. She also has a talent for portraying the effect of fame on the women who support and love the famous one. And as with the previous book, I've been motivated to learn more about famous subject! (less)
An interesting premise. Elizabeth Keckley was born a slave and trained as a seamstress. She eventually bought her freedom and became a well-known dres...moreAn interesting premise. Elizabeth Keckley was born a slave and trained as a seamstress. She eventually bought her freedom and became a well-known dressmaker in Washington, DC, sewing for Varina Davis, Jefferson Davis' wife, and eventually for Mary Lincoln. She became Mary Lincoln's personal "modiste" and spent a lot of time with the Lincoln family in the White House. This historical fiction novel is based on partly on a book written by Keckley which depicts her experiences. While the perspective is interesting, I never got invested in the book or the characters portrayed. The narration was too passive; it read more like a textbook and there was almost no narrative personality created. I was disappointed in the book, especially as I've read other books by Jennifer Chiaverini that I've thoroughly enjoyed.(less)
Winston Crwth (pronounced to rhyme with truth) is starting junior year at his third high school in 3 years. He's won a Dark scholarship, sponsored by...moreWinston Crwth (pronounced to rhyme with truth) is starting junior year at his third high school in 3 years. He's won a Dark scholarship, sponsored by Pennsylvania's coal and gas king, the Dark Corporation. His new school is located near a fracking operation, and the school itself is supported by the company's operations. As usual, Win has a hard time fitting in, but uses his Scrabble skills to find his niche. He also makes friends with his dyslexic roommate and a professor's daughter. The three teens, and Win's Scrabble coach use Win's Scrabble skills to get an interview with Pennsylvania's governor in an attempt to expose the life-threatening water pollution caused by Dark's fracking operations.
The author did a good job creating a Dickensenian atmosphere; his description of Win's dorm gave me the creeps. But I didn't really enjoy this novel. It was depressing, and very preachy. While the dangers of fracking are becoming more well-known, and while it's important to alert readers to potential dangers, I think that Browning's methodology is less effective that a more humorous approach, like Carl Hiaasen's approach to environmental issues. (less)
An enjoyable, if predictable,summer read. Nina has taken care of everybody and everything for years - her irresponsible mother, her younger sister, th...moreAn enjoyable, if predictable,summer read. Nina has taken care of everybody and everything for years - her irresponsible mother, her younger sister, the family antique store--- and in the process has given up all of her dreams. Her life seems an endless round of responsibility. And then two men from her past and her younger sister return to town. Their presence and an ugly painting turn everyone's expectations upside down. Susan Mallery's characters are sympathetic, her Blackberry Island setting is cozy, and everybody lives happily ever after. (less)