I received a free copy of this book from the Goodreads Firstreads program. This was a cozy mystery with a murder occurring at a large multi-county fai...moreI received a free copy of this book from the Goodreads Firstreads program. This was a cozy mystery with a murder occurring at a large multi-county fair. I happened to read this at the same time that Kansas was holding the state fair, so it was somewhat fitting, although I did not go to the fair this year. The author did a great job creating characters with odd quirks and exploring the somewhat unusual (to me) world of hobby farming. The murder was not as interesting - the person who died was not one of the interesting characters, so it was hard to care if they caught his killer. Overall, the writing was clever but the plot only lukewarm. (less)
I received a free Advanced Reading Copy of this book through the Goodreads Firstreads program. SYLO is narrated in the first person by a young teenage...moreI received a free Advanced Reading Copy of this book through the Goodreads Firstreads program. SYLO is narrated in the first person by a young teenage boy, Tucker, living on an island in Maine. The book starts out with the most normal of events - a small town football game. People then start unexpectedly dying, and a branch of the U.S. Navy comes in to establish a quarantine on the island. Tucker and his small group of friends soon realize that the military leaders are not to be trusted. He also finds out that his parents are somehow involved in whatever is going on. There's also a mysterious drug called Ruby that can give people superpowers but leads to erratic behavior and death if misused. This book is fast-paced, with Tucker and his friends rolling from one situation to another as they slowly gain more information. Some themes covered in this book should make it attractive to the right audience. In establishing and maintaining the quarantine, the US Navy ends up in the position of taking arms against US citizens. The people on the island form an underground resistance movement. Self-reliance and gun ownership are also covered topics. Initially, as the story started unfolding I had concerns with the material being covered in a children's book (I shelved it as young adult but I believe the cover said 10 and up) - I find the prospect of the military taking action against US citizens to be a far-fetched and unnecessarily alarmist one. I eventually decided that my discomfort with the idea probably meant that the author was on to something important and worth saying. I decided to reserve judgment until I finished - and since this book ended with a huge revelation that serves as a cliffhanger, I'm still undecided. There is a lot to like about this story- but there are some faults as well. There is no subtlety in this writing at all. The author repeatedly told me things that I could have inferred from reading the information already provided. I sometimes felt annoyed because I was being explicitly told things that were obvious. It felt like wasted print which could have been used to further develop characters, as most of the characters were a little flat. One minor thing that really turned me off was the reference to US Navy personnel as "soldiers." Having served as a US Navy Surface Warfare Officer for almost ten years, I prefer to be referred to as a "sailor." I also tend to think that anyone who refers to a sailor as a soldier does not know much about the military. To me, this might be an indication of an author credibility issue. Since the book was told in first person, maybe the author was trying to be authentic in representing a teenage boy. I will probably read the next books in this series. I think it's supposed to be a trilogy - I can make it through two more, I think. I'm intrigued enough to want to find out what happens next. I think this book would be a good fit for young boys (12-18) but I would recommend that parents be ready to discuss the book with children. (less)
I won a copy of this book through the Goodreads FirstReads program. This was slow going for me at first, but once I got into it, I really enjoyed it. S...moreI won a copy of this book through the Goodreads FirstReads program. This was slow going for me at first, but once I got into it, I really enjoyed it. Sadie, the main character in this story, is a woman who is haunted by her past. Two young girls from her very small town disappeared when she was young. The second disappearance happened as she is on the edge of adolescence and coincided with some troubled events in her family life. After Sadie experiences the stillbirth of a child, she feels pulled back into the past by the reappearance of one of the central characters in the earlier trauma. As I read the story, I gradually came to realize that Sadie was trapped emotionally in that summer in her life. The tragic events that caused Sadie grief also separated her from anyone who might have been able to help her through her experience of grief. When she experiences another major loss as an adult, she is afraid she is doomed to end up coping with grief as her mother did. Sadie still carries the emotional scars of her mother's less than effective way of dealing with grief. Sadie also agonizes over her own perceived failures as a wife and mother. Since her own relationship with her mother was cut short at a young age, I think she has an unrealistic expectation of trying to be the "perfect" mother. At the core, this book strikes a truth about motherhood; all mothers are first imperfect people. I think that's why I was so self-righteously upset at the beginning of the book and unable to connect with Sadie. I was judging her as a mother and found her to be imperfect. Her cold method of dealing with her grief and her interest in the man from her past are very off-putting - intentionally, I think. As I read further and got to know Sadie better, she started to make more sense. In addition to motherhood, this book also made me think about personality and choices. Sadie, like her mother, has spent most of her life acting a part. She has now hit a point where she has to figure out who she really is. She is afraid that she won't like herself and that she'll be stuck. I like that by the end of the book, Sadie realizes that through her choices, she has some power to actually create herself. Her personality is not fixed but is instead a conglomeration of her choices. The mystery of the missing girls keeps the book moving along. You know something is going to happen, but you're not sure what. And the book keeps flipping back and forth from the past to the present; this serves to keep the tension and interest level high. I'd recommend this book for anyone who likes character driven suspense. (less)
I was lucky enough to win a copy of this book through the Goodreads Firstreads program.
This book was a definite improvement over book one in the serie...moreI was lucky enough to win a copy of this book through the Goodreads Firstreads program.
This book was a definite improvement over book one in the series. At the end of book one, Jasper (the friend from America who main purpose in book one is to provide a plot for book two) is arrested and hauled back to the United States. Finley, Griffin, and their entourage follow to stage a rescue. Finley ends up undercover in a gang of outlaws, trying to help Jasper recover and assemble a strange machine, while Griffin works with Nicola Tesla to discover the purpose of the machine. The romances between Griffin and Finley and Sam and Emily move forward at a glacial pace in this book. Finley seems obsessed about the class difference separating her from Griffin. That doesn't seem realistic; the superpower abilities they share would trump the minor obstacles of their different classes. Jasper is coerced into working for the gang leader Dalton by his connection to Mei, an old love. I found Mei to be a one-dimensional, unlikeable character. This made predicting some elements of the plot too easy; a bit of subtlety and nuance in her character would have been an improvement to the overall story. I liked seeing Nicola Tesla in the story. I saw a huge statue of him at Niagara Falls last summer, and I know that plans are underway to establish a museum in his honor. I would like to read more about his historical contributions to science. I will continue to read this series. Griffin's encounters with the strange black Aether make me curious. I also want to see more of the cat woman gang leader and of course, Jack Dandy.(less)
I won a copy of this book through the Goodreads FirstReads program.
This was a real heart-breaker of a book. Two young girls find refuge on a remote or...moreI won a copy of this book through the Goodreads FirstReads program.
This was a real heart-breaker of a book. Two young girls find refuge on a remote orchard after escaping from the historical version of a child trafficker. Both are pregnant and unwilling to trust Talmadge, the old orchardist who tries to help.
This book is about connections between people, especially between those with personalities that naturally crave solitude or who are badly damaged by life.
The author is bleak and probably realistic in her portrayal of the rugged western frontier. I tend to look back at historical times through rose-colored glasses. This novel could be the basis for an episode of Law and Order: SVU - the Wild West version.
I'm a happy ending kind of person - I craved an epilogue with a glimpse into the future of the young woman left alone at the end. I wanted to know what happened to Talmadge's sister, and I wanted Della to have some happiness - or at least peace. I have enough appreciation of the art of novel writing to know that the author is very smart not to gratify my curiosity.
It took me a couple of chapters to get used to the style of writing, but it worked well for me after the adjustment. I also experienced some frustration in the middle of the book with the length of chapters - the author varied the length of passages to control dramatic tension in the story. It was effective but a little bit hard to adapt to. During two big action scenes, I was initially confused - they are told from one character's point of view and then retold through the eyes of other characters.
I highly recommend this book and am glad I won it. It's available on the Kansas 3M Lending Library and also at the Kingman Public Library, but I might not have been interested enough to read it without the extra incentive of the First Reads program.
I was lucky enough to win this book through the Goodreads FirstReads program.
This was my first Maisie Dobbs book, which was probably unfortunate in s...moreI was lucky enough to win this book through the Goodreads FirstReads program.
This was my first Maisie Dobbs book, which was probably unfortunate in some ways. This was 3 1/2 stars and I rounded up to four. This book had a lot of things to like - and perhaps with a prior relationship to the characters, I would have loved it - but there seemed to be a weakness in the mystery. This book was more about Maisie and the decision point she's at in her life. As a first time reader, I would have liked to see more character development in the people associated with this mystery.
There was an overarching theme which tied Maisie's life to the crime she's investigating - how do women fit a professional/personal life together with a relationship. Maisie is a successful investigator; her romantic partner wants to marry her but she is not sure marriage is for her. As Maisie investigates the murder of a woman from India, she increasingly feels a need to travel herself; at the same time, the facts she uncovers about the murdered woman and the unconventional marriages she encounters have her constantly evaluating her own situation.
The resolution to the crime felt like a bit of a let down - I was kept guessing with several viable suspects through most of the book, but the options narrowed at the end. When the guilty party was revealed, I'm not entirely sure I buy the motivation and background of the criminal. Too many details were added at the last minute.
I will go back and read the previous Maisie Dobbs books; hopefully I haven't spoiled everything by going out of order.(less)
I received a free copy of this book from the Goodreads First Reads program.
This is a story about a nontraditional family: an aunt who becomes a parent...moreI received a free copy of this book from the Goodreads First Reads program.
This is a story about a nontraditional family: an aunt who becomes a parent to her two nieces and a nephew when their parents die tragically. It's also a story about searching for identity - through occupation and through relationships. I was mostly captured and charmed by this book. The last few pages brought me to tears (actually, the first couple of chapters did as well), although I admit that earlier the book had a parts where I mentally stepped outside the story because something seemed a little wrong - everything was just "too much". I think that ultimately this book worked well for me because I could relate to the characters because of some of my own life experiences.
Eloise, the aunt in the story, has to leave a very promising career in Boston to move back to Cincinnati to raise her nieces and nephew. She ends up living in the house she grew up in. The story starts with the children all grown up yet living in the same house with Eloise. She is eager for them to move out and start their own lives, so she can have her interrupted life back. She wants to sell the house to provide her a retirement nest egg; her nieces and nephew each have their own reasons for wanting to keep the house. This sets up the central conflict of the story. Tied up in the feelings about the house are the issues of unresolved grief from the loss of parents/siblings which started the story. Theo, the oldest daughter, almost has a PhD in history; she just needs to finish the introduction. She is delaying because completion of her degree means moving on, probably away from Cincinnati, and she is not ready for that. She also is in love with an unattainable colleague of her aunt Eloise. Josh is a charming former member of a moderately successful rock band. He is back in Cincinnati, working a marketing job and trying to avoid moving on with his life. Claire, the baby of the family, is a professional ballerina. At the beginning of the story, she is preparing to move to New York City to start a new phase in her career. All four of the family members struggle with issues of vocation and with relationships in this book.
Now for the parallels with my life - I worked in the east for several years, before moving back to Kansas to the house I grew up in to raise my daughter. (Although in my case, part of the reason for the move was for the love and support of my family - something Eloise does not have as her mother packs ups and moves elsewhere shortly after Eloise moves back home.) I have a strong interest in the roles of aunts filling in for parents, because for the first three years of my daughter's life, while I was living in the east, my sister acted as a co-parent to my daughter. My daughter is a ballet student who just started pointe shoes this year. She's not nearly at the professional level of the two ballet dancers in this story, but the connection still deepened my interest in the story. And I have a cousin who is married to a successful member of a rock band. I was lucky enough to be able to attend a concert this last fall; my brother, sister-in-law, and I were on the VIP list and had special seating reserved for us with my cousin. We felt pretty special that night. This was another layer of connections that made the book work for me. All of these connections actually led me to the biggest moment of disconnection with the book. It's actually a little much to have one sibling of a family be a famous rock star and another a top ballet dancer. When you add the big monstrosity of a house, the whole thing seems a little bit artificial and unrealistic. If I didn't have the many little interconnections with the story, would it work for me?
I hope so, as I grew to love these characters just a little bit. I don't think this is a forever kind of love like I feel for Anne of Green Gables, but it is much more solid than my contemporary book flings with characters like Bentz and Montoya, Sookie Stackhouse, or Virgil Flowers. This book touched my heart, and I wanted to know more. I wanted to continue to follow the family's jobs and relationships in the future. I wanted to know more about Eloise and Rachel, and especially how their mom, Francine, ended up as such a piece of work. I wanted so much to read one of those little epilogues that are always present at the end of the happily-ever-after romance novels. This is always a sign of a well-written book to me; the author was wise enough to leave the characters unfinished and thus wholly human and alive.
I was lucky enough to win an advanced review copy of this book through the Goodreads Firstreads program. I have been a big fan of Mary Balogh for year...moreI was lucky enough to win an advanced review copy of this book through the Goodreads Firstreads program. I have been a big fan of Mary Balogh for years and always look forward to reading her new books. This one did not disappoint. This is the second entry in the Survivors' Club series, a group of people connected by the pain of recovering from their experiences in the Napoleonic war. The challenges faced by the hero are interesting - he was blinded during the war; I don't think I've ever read any regencies from this particular point of view. The heroine is a poor relation who ends up destitute after being turned out by her vile relatives. The story is fairly predictable but enjoyable if you like this genre.
One thing that I consistently like about Mary Balogh is the way she is more realistic than some authors in handling the sex scenes. It's not always instantly wonderful and the characters spend time together that's not always focused on sex.
One drawback for me was the youth of both characters and the growth they had to experience for this novel to work. Vincent was basically letting his sisters and mother run his life; he runs away instead of standing up for himself. Then, he ends up marrying without his family in attendance to a penniless nobody. Sophia has no self-esteem because no one has cared for her in five years. She has to rebuild her sense of self-worth, which seems to be mostly centered on her appearance. In this book, they stumbled into marriage and that marriage solved their life problems, in less than a year. I just don't think it was very realistic. While this is not my favorite Mary Balogh book, it was a nice light read and I recommend it to historical romance fans.
John Sandford does a great job with these books. Hard to believe I've read 23 of the Lucas Davenport books and am still able to be engrossed in the st...moreJohn Sandford does a great job with these books. Hard to believe I've read 23 of the Lucas Davenport books and am still able to be engrossed in the story. I'm a sucker for a good series - I think it's a bit of laziness on my part, I don't have to learn new characters - but usually after five or six the stories start to get old. Now, I can't wait for the next one. I guess I could go ahead and read the Kidd books....(less)
One of the ladies at the library really likes this author, so I thought I'd give him a chance. Plus, the first three books in the series were readily...moreOne of the ladies at the library really likes this author, so I thought I'd give him a chance. Plus, the first three books in the series were readily available to check out in digital format from my state library. The first two books in the series were interesting enough to keep my attention, and I'll probably read the third one since I have it checked out, but I've decided that I'm not a fan of Stone Barrington. The first two books strike me as somewhat anti-gay and anti-women. I think maybe this was done to make Stone a "man's man", even though he's too sophisticated and high class to fit into the police department. Plus, Stone seems to exist in a high-profile, name-dropping kind of world that just doesn't interest me very much.