Beginning chapter book featuring plenty of illustrations and easy vocabulary. Princess Magnolia is also The Princess in Black, a superhero saves the kBeginning chapter book featuring plenty of illustrations and easy vocabulary. Princess Magnolia is also The Princess in Black, a superhero saves the kingdom from a monster. A good mix of princess and superhero tropes with beautiful illustrations. ...more
Charming fairy tale picture book. The illustrations are gorgeous and there is a great message about marrying someone who is a friend with similar inteCharming fairy tale picture book. The illustrations are gorgeous and there is a great message about marrying someone who is a friend with similar interests rather than a rich prince. ...more
Beautiful literary fiction about life after a pandemic flu that killed off 99% of the population. The novel opens with the death of Arthur Leander, aBeautiful literary fiction about life after a pandemic flu that killed off 99% of the population. The novel opens with the death of Arthur Leander, a Hollywood actor, who dies onstage during a production of King Lear in Toronto. A few hours later the world as we know it begins to crumble as a virulent strain of the flu begins to cull the population. The rest of the novel traces several characters who interacted with Arthur in some way--Jeevan, the EMT in training who performs CPR on Arthur, Kirsten, an actress who performed in King Lear with Arthur and now travels the post flu world as a member of the Traveling Symphony, Miranda, Arthur's first wife and artist, and Clark, Arthur's oldest friend. The reader gets peeks at both their post and pre collapse lives, with the emphasis for some characters more on the post collapse world.
Mandel's prose is descriptive and relatively simple but it is also moving and heartbreakingly beautiful. The post collapse world is realistically depicted and the loss of technology and the connections brought by technology is excellently rendered. The characterizations were strong and Arthur and Kirsten were particularly memorable. I loved the atmosphere of the novel and the foreboding sense of unknown the characters face. Highly recommended....more
Another strong literary mystery from Tana French. Stephen Moran (a supporting character in French's earlier Faithful Place) takes center stage as theAnother strong literary mystery from Tana French. Stephen Moran (a supporting character in French's earlier Faithful Place) takes center stage as the narrator in this book. Moran is working as a Cold Cases detective when Holly Mackey (another character from Faithful Place) shows up at his office looking for him. Holly is now a teenager and she remembers Stephen from the earlier case. Holly has found a postcard with the words "I Know Who Killed Him" on it; this refers to the murder of a teenage boy at Holly's elite Catholic boarding school, St. Kilda's, a year earlier. Ambitious Moran convinces the lead detective Antoinette Conway on the case to let him tag along to St. Kilda's that day for follow up interviews. Conway and Moran encounter two different groups of close friends as they investigate the crime.
The investigation takes place over the course of a day and the reader does not really learn the back story of Moran to the extent of previous French protagonists. Interwoven with the story of that day's investigation is the life of the previous year and a half of Holly and her three close friends (Selena, Becca, and Julia) and how their lives intersected with Chris'(the victim). There is also a rival group of mean girls in the story and French excels at capturing the lives of teenage girls from viciousness to insecurity to desire to love.
Frank Mackey from previous books plays a supporting role here (he must French's favorite character to write for) and but the teen girls are the stars here (I especially liked the character of Holly). Fans of French's previous books will enjoy her latest as well. ...more
Fast paced dystopian YA novel and the first in a trilogy. There was a lot of action in this book and the author did a good job of setting up the dystoFast paced dystopian YA novel and the first in a trilogy. There was a lot of action in this book and the author did a good job of setting up the dystopian society. I listened to the book on audio and felt the readers left a lot to be desired. Alternating a female narrator for the character of June and a male narrator for the character of Day (the two protagonists) was a good idea but both narrations were flat and lacked spark.
I don't really care for dystopias and this book did not change that but I can see how this book will appeal to teens. ...more
Fun historical fantasy/paranormal YA novel. This is very much Sherlock meets Doctor Who and will appeal to fans of both. Abigail Rook has newly arriveFun historical fantasy/paranormal YA novel. This is very much Sherlock meets Doctor Who and will appeal to fans of both. Abigail Rook has newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England after an unproductive stint digging for dinosaur fossils in Eastern Europe. In new of a job, she becomes an assistant to Jackaby, a seer and investigator of paranormal phenomenon. Jackaby is very much of mix of Sherlock and the Doctor and Abigail slides easily into the companion/Watson role. There is a serial killer on the loose who is not human and Jackaby and Abigail (with some resistance from the police department) must locate the killer.
The banter is appropriately witty and Ritter does a nice job of world building. While the denouncement has some goriness overall this isn't too scary of a book and more of a mystery/historical fantasy hybrid than a horror novel.
The ending sets up possible future adventures for Jackaby and Abigail and it looks like a sequel is coming in Fall of 2015....more
2.5 Stars. Historical Farce for grades 6 - 8. After their headmistress and her brother, die unexpectedly (it turns about to be murder), the seven ente2.5 Stars. Historical Farce for grades 6 - 8. After their headmistress and her brother, die unexpectedly (it turns about to be murder), the seven enterprising girl of St. Etheldreda's School for Girls bury the corpses in the backyard and attempt to proceed as normal. This is a dark comedy set in the late Victoria era that might not be for everyone's tastes. There is mystery, romance and period detail. This book is reminiscent of the works of Oscar Wilde, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Joan Aiken. Some of the characters (Smooth Kitty) were more prominent and more interesting than others. It was a nice blend of intelligent girls and clever plotting but it might be difficult for this book to find its audience in junior high readers.
I listened to this on audio and felt the narrator did a good job but I feel it might have been better to read the print version since I found my attention drifting at times. ...more
Quick read in the alternate history read that is light on the alternate history angle. Walton plays with the alternate history genre but offering notQuick read in the alternate history read that is light on the alternate history angle. Walton plays with the alternate history genre but offering not just one but two alternate histories both versions of the same woman's life.
Patricia Cowan is suffering from dementia in 2015. In her nursing home, she has memories of herself in two different past lives. Her early childhood and adulthood are the same, but a fateful decision in 1949 of whether to marry her boyfriend or not leads her down two diverging paths. In one reality she marries Mark, has a difficult loveless marriage as a repressed housewife before finally divorcing and achieving some self-actualization in the 1970s. In this world, Tricia never really has a deep love or happy home life although her children provide some bright spots. The world gradually becomes more peaceful and socialistic. In the other reality, she (called Pat here) does not marry Mark but visits Italy and becomes a travel writer. She later falls in love with a woman and has a happy home life with three children. In this world, there is much more world strife with frequent nuclear attacks and disease.
Walton moves forward in the time and in the lives of Pat and Tricia in short chapters that encompass numerous characters. Some things are similar in both worlds--Pat/Tricia is a teacher, she has a son who is a musician, her mother dies of dementia, and she herself also slowly succumbs to dementia.
I have enjoyed Walton's other alternate histories but found this one severely lacking. It was hard to get to known the personalities of Pat/Tricia's numerous children and their spouses; often major life changes were summed up in one paragraph. I found the characters of Pat and her wife, Bee, to be smug and their declarations of love and musings on their wonderful family and how lucky they were to be annoying rather than touching. It was funny how casually Tricia's son, George, would jet off to the moon for his research work. The sex scenes with Pat, Bee and the biological father of their children, Michael, were cringe worthy. A lot of the alternate history was lightly mentioned and the main focus was the personal life of the main character which is only somewhat affected by alternate world events. Readers who like alternate history may not find enough alternate events or the exploration of how the events effect the characters to enjoy this. Readers who like domestic drama or women's fiction with a slight twist might enjoy this more but there are too many characters and the alternate history (especially the moon stuff) comes off as silly or could confuse readers who didn't know that it was an alternate history before they started reading. ...more
Biography of one of the richest women in American who is virtually unknown. Dedman traces the life of Huguette Clark, daughter of W.A. Clark, a copperBiography of one of the richest women in American who is virtually unknown. Dedman traces the life of Huguette Clark, daughter of W.A. Clark, a copper mining baron. Huguette lived to be over 100 years old and spent the last twenty years of her life in a hospital room, despite being healthy. Dedman does a great job with the investigative work of figuring out who Huguette was -- what her passions and interests were. I enjoyed the opening chapters that traced the larger than life exploits of her father, W.A., since the Gilded Age is a period of American History that I enjoy reading about. Ultimately, I didn't find Huguette to be very interesting or remarkable. She was reclusive and passionate about collecting dolls and artwork. I prefer biographies of people who are notable in their professions or impact the world in some way. Huguette is notable because she was rich (all her money was inherited, not earned in anyway). If she was a poor or middle class woman, she wouldn't be thought of as a kind eccentric but as a crazy lady with a doll collecting fetish.
I read this book since it was a book club selection. It will appeal to people fascinated by the eccentricities of the rich and true accounts of unusual behavior. The audio narrator did an excellent job reading the text and the audio included snippets of recorded conversations between Huguette and her cousin, Paul, recorded in the 1990s....more
Atmospheric supsense novel about the lives of teenage girls. A mysterious epidemic has gripped the teenage girls of the Northeastern town of Dryden; tAtmospheric supsense novel about the lives of teenage girls. A mysterious epidemic has gripped the teenage girls of the Northeastern town of Dryden; they are having convulsions and the cause is unknown. Could it be the HPV vaccination? The toxic pond in town? The loss of virginity? The story is narrated in the third person omniscient by the three members of the Nash family -- dad Tom, a teacher at the high school, son Eli, a star hockey player, and Dennie, best friend to two of the afflicted girls.
This is a dark, compelling novel with a strong sense of place. Abott does a superb job of depicting teenage girls dealing with desire, sex, friendship, and growing up. The descriptions are lush and beautiful. The book conjures an atmosphere of fear, suspicion, and the unknown that is a excellent modern day version of the Crucible. This is a slow burning suspense novel that reminded me in some ways of Gillian Flynn's first novel, Sharp Objects. There is a lot going on thematically in this novel and it would make a good choice for adventurous book clubs and older high school students. ...more
3.5 Stars. Literary fiction about family dynamics. Despite the opening lines of the novel ("Lydia is dead. But they don't know this yet."), this is no3.5 Stars. Literary fiction about family dynamics. Despite the opening lines of the novel ("Lydia is dead. But they don't know this yet."), this is not a thriller; instead it is a somber account of the relationship between parents and children. The Lee family sticks out in their small Ohio college town; the father James, is Chinese-American and his wife, Marilyn is white. Their three children are of mixed race. The story opens in the late 1970s with the disappearance of Lydia, the 16 year old middle child. Lydia was the favorite child and when her body is discovered in the nearby lake the Lees family unravels. But in reality the family has been troubled for years. Marilyn gave up her dream of becoming a doctor when discovering she was pregnant with her son, Nath. She pins her hopes onto Lydia and only sees her as an extension of herself. James, who was lonely and unpopular as the only Chinese American student at a small town in Iowa, is determined that his daughter will be a popular, pretty girl. Both parents fail to see Lydia for who she is and their excessive attentions leave them little time for their other two children.
The book moves back and forth in time, from James and Marilyn's childhoods to the events after the discovery of Lydia's body. There is a lot to discuss in this tale of race, stereotypes, sibling rivalry, gender, secrets, appearances, and expectations. Ng's writing is fluid, and beautifully precise. This book reminded me a lot of The Lovely Bones with its depiction of the tragic early death of a child and the effects on the family left behind. A good book discussion possibility that will appeal to readers of literary fiction....more
Historical examination of the rise of the conservative right of the Republic party from January 1973 through the the Republican National Convention inHistorical examination of the rise of the conservative right of the Republic party from January 1973 through the the Republican National Convention in 1976, where Reagan almost defeated the sitting President for his party's nomination.
Perlstein does an excellent job of integrating social and cultural events (the return of Vietnam POWs, the mockery of Chevy Chase on Saturday Night Life) within the political environment of the mid 1970s. He also explores Ronald Reagan in depth--from his childhood in Illinois through his Hollywood career. This was nearly 1000 pages and it took me about a month to read, but it was enormously informative and enjoyable. I look forward to reading Perlstein's next book (probably about how Reagan finally became president). Perlstein writes from a liberal perspective but he is equally critical of Democratic politicians as he is of Republican ones (Jimmy Carter doesn't come off particularly well here). Readers who are either extreme conservatives or extreme liberals will probably find this not ideological enough for them. Perlstein is interested in the rise of the conservative arm of the Republican party and is fair in his portrayal of the major players....more
Excellent historical fiction novel set in WWII Berlin. Sigrid Schroder seems to be the model German wife. Lurking beneath her placid surface is a rebeExcellent historical fiction novel set in WWII Berlin. Sigrid Schroder seems to be the model German wife. Lurking beneath her placid surface is a rebellious, sensual woman. Sigrid's former lover is a Jew and Sigrid herself soon becomes involved in an underground network hiding Jews. There is lots of moral ambiguity in this book and the plotting is as suspenseful as a thriller. A good book discussion book and for readers who enjoy WWII era fiction....more