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)
This book started out with the line, "I only go out at night." This made me think of the Hall & Oates song "Maneater", which is strangely appropri...moreThis book started out with the line, "I only go out at night." This made me think of the Hall & Oates song "Maneater", which is strangely appropriate for the monsters in this story. I finished this in a day, and I would go out and buy the next book in the series today if I could. Amy is fourteen when her world as she knows it ends. Alien monsters invade and quickly kill almost all of the world's population. Only those who are able to hide in fallout shelters or highly secure zones are able to survive. Amy's environmentally conscious father has made their house self-sufficient with solar panels and rainwater collection; Amy's paranoid mother has installed a security system with an electric fence. From the relative safety of her home, Amy is able to observe the monsters' behavior. She learns enough about them to be able to safely conduct night foraging raids for supplies. On one of those raids, she finds Baby, a young female toddler who has somehow been able to evade the monsters. Amy and Baby survive on their own for three years, until finally they are found by a collective of survivors.
At this point, the writing style changes. The point of view shifts back and forth in time. One narrative describes Amy and Baby's experience in the first few days in the collective; the other narrative flashes forward to a future where Amy is receiving psychiatric treatment and is unable to clearly recall recent events in her life. As I read more about the group of survivors, I was reminded of Walden Two and Brave New World & Brave New World Revisited. I knew Amy would somehow escape; I had to keep reading to find out how.
From an entertainment standpoint, this book is five stars; it caught my attention and kept it. I downgraded to four stars for two reasons. One, there are characterization issues with some of the minor characters. Some of the characters seemed to exist solely to move the plot forward. I think depth of characterization was sacrificed to keep the pace fast in the second section of the book. Two, the main character is selective about when she experiences moral qualms. In her first encounter with another survivor, she ends up killing the guy. He was presented as a would-be rapist, so it is a justifiable homicide. I just think it would be more emotionally disturbing than presented.
I'm trying to decide if a third point is a positive or negative. This book reminds me of other books and movies. I haven't read World War Z yet, but I did see the movie, and this has some similarities. I'm leaning towards positive.
I was SUPPOSED to win a copy of this book via the Goodreads Firstreads program - however, I never received a copy of this book. I did receive two copies of The Girl in the Clockwork Collar, so I think someone somewhere messed up. I had to order a copy via interlibrary loan.(less)
I was lucky enough to win a copy of this book from the Goodreads Firstreads program. This is the second of the Timothy Wilde mysteries. Timothy Wilde...moreI was lucky enough to win a copy of this book from the Goodreads Firstreads program. This is the second of the Timothy Wilde mysteries. Timothy Wilde is a member of the fledgling NYPD police department in 1845. The city is experiencing a tremendous influx of immigrants from Ireland, politics controls most occupations, the country is on the verge of war with Mexico and Great Britian, and tensions between the Northern and Southern United States are escalating. Timothy Wilde ends up embroiled in a quest to rescue some free black citizens who have been kidnapped from their homes and are in danger of being shipped south into slavery. As Timothy races to unravel the strings of this mystery, the conflicts facing the city converge explosively, putting his life, his family and friends,and his job in jeopardy. The characterization and growth of Timothy Wilde through this book is amazing. I was so busy devouring the story that I didn't take the time to write down examples; but he's trying to fix the world, while stumbling through personal grief and trying to help those around him through their own problems. Now I'm kind of sad; reading the book before it's officially published means I'll have that much longer to wait before I can read the next book about Timothy Wilde and his friends. If you have not yet read The Gods of Gotham, you have time to find a copy and read it before September, so you'll be ready for this one.(less)
I read this book primarily because I was lucky enough to win the sequel, Seven for a Secret, through the Goodreads Firstreads program. From the beginn...moreI read this book primarily because I was lucky enough to win the sequel, Seven for a Secret, through the Goodreads Firstreads program. From the beginning, I felt like I was swept into the gruesome world of 1840s New York City. The characterization and the glimpse of history are strengths of this book. I was able to figure out most of the details of the mystery early on, but I kept reading for the character revelations. (less)
I won a copy of this book through the Goodreads Firstreads program.
Emma is a governess with a past, working for a gentleman in disgrace due to the fai...moreI won a copy of this book through the Goodreads Firstreads program.
Emma is a governess with a past, working for a gentleman in disgrace due to the failure of a recent scientific experiment. Nicholas devotes nearly all of his time to his laboratory experiments, hoping to redeem his reputation and make working conditions safer for miners on his land. He neglects his young daughter. Emma decides to use her scientific knowledge (gained in the home of her evil foster father) to help repair the relationship between father and daughter. Along the way, they fall in love and defeat the evil relatives.
I was intrigued by the characterization of Nicholas. He is stronger intellectually than he is emotionally. He truly feels like such a failure at relating to others that he doesn't think it any big loss to his daughter to not have a relationship. I liked the focus on science in the book.
I signed up for the giveaway because I remember Regina Scott fondly from the days of subscribing to the Zebra Regency Romances. I've noticed that I don't have any of her books added to Goodreads. That reminds me that I've only added the first half alphabetically of my boxes of regency books. I like kids in books, so the governess plot was promising - and it's about science, another like! Unfortunately, I overlooked that it was part of the Love Inspired line. I usually don't like Christian fiction; I find it hard to connect personally to the discussions of prayer and spiritual growth which to me seem like unneeded distractions. I liked this one better than I like most Christian fiction books. This would probably be a great book for fans of the classic regency novel who don't get distracted by the religion like I do.(less)
I won a copy of this book from the Goodreads Firstreads program.
One of the ways I've learned to recognize that I'm reading a great suspense book is by...moreI won a copy of this book from the Goodreads Firstreads program.
One of the ways I've learned to recognize that I'm reading a great suspense book is by how tempted I am to cheat - to look at the last few pages of the book to see if I'm guessing correctly. In mediocre books, I rarely need to cheat - I either know who the bad guy is or I just don't care. I had a very difficult time not looking with this one. This is a murder mystery, with the first murder occurring a little over a decade after the end of World War II in Italy. A police investigator suspects that the murder is related to the family's experiences in the turbulent last days of the war. Three distinct points of view are used to tell the story. There is a first person narrative from the killer, there's a 1950s third person narrative, usually focusing on the detective but sometimes on other key characters, and there is a flashback narrative, describing the events during the last years of the war.
The author was great at slowly revealing mysterious details throughout the book, leaving the resolution of the larger mysteries until the last few pages. I also felt like the characterization was very strong. I became attached to each of the characters, even when their imperfections were revealed.
From a psychological mystery standpoint, I was a bit unhappy with the ending. Even though we had a first person narrative from the killer, I felt like the killer was one of the weaker characters. I think that maybe this was necessary to keep the reader from knowing who the killer was too soon. I could conceive of several possible killers from the pool of potential suspects. When finally revealed, the motivation for the murders seemed kind of suspect, given the world situation at the time.
Like The Book Thief, this book made me rethink some of my assumptions about World War II. Both books showed me how simplistic and inaccurate my black and white way of looking at history was. I was very sympathetic towards Cristina and her romance with a young Nazi. Knowing that a happy ending was unlikely did not keep me from wishing for one. And I'd honestly never given a thought to the nuances separating Italian soldiers and German soldiers.
When I finished reading, I still wanted to know more about Serafina. Maybe the author is intending to write a sequel? I would happily read it, but I doubt it would be as good as this first book :)
I recommend this book to anyone interested in historical suspense. And if you like this book, I recommend the books by Rennie Airth. (less)
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.
I received an ARC of this book to review through the Goodreads Firstreads program. I was a bit nervous when I received this in the mail. True, somethi...moreI received an ARC of this book to review through the Goodreads Firstreads program. I was a bit nervous when I received this in the mail. True, something made me sign up for the giveaway - but it looked more violent and adventuresome than I typically like. The cover is absolutely gorgeous but is covered with weapons and ammunition in the shape of a skull. Well, on page 1 I came across this quote I was inspired to write down: "You're dying and I'm not and as much as I care for you I can't treat you like a real person anymore." And on page 2, "Doctors are irritated by those beyond help." I was moved to write down quotes and thoughts for the first 50 pages. After that, I was so engrossed with the story that I couldn't be bothered to take the time to write things down. This is definitely a literary action-suspense novel.
Marder is a vietnam vet who currently works as a book editor in New York City. He has two somewhat estranged children and a wife who has died after some tragedy. When he receives some bad news at the beginning of the book, he sets off to Mexico in an attempt to atone for his perceived responsibility for that tragedy.
At least three times in his life, Marder has voluntarily made a trip to a foreign country in an attempt to find himself. The first time, he enlisted in the Air Force and had a life-altering experience in Vietnam. He came back home still lost but with a life-long war buddy, Skelly. The second time, he flees to Mexico to escape an okay marriage and job. He falls in love with a woman and flees with her back to the United States. She brings Mexican culture with her and he becomes enthralled with Mexico as a natural extension of his love for her. After a tragedy in Mexico ends their immersion in each other and drags her metaphorically back home, Marder is left alone. After a few years, he makes the third trip, a return trip to Mexico. This trip is the present day main focus of the book. He takes his army buddy Skelly with him; his daughter, Carmel Marder, ends up following as well.
The book has three alternate points of view: Marder in the present, Marder in the present telling flashbacks of Vietnam action, and his daughter Carmel. For me the inclusion of his daughter Carmel is important as she is the one I can most relate to. Sometimes, when books have more than one point of view, I grit my teeth and bear the uninteresting characters, waiting to get back to the one I'm most connected to. (Game of Thrones, anyone?) I think as a younger reader, I used to skip the uninteresting stuff - probably why I have fond memories of the Lord of the Rings but find it difficult to reread. Luckily for me, I was interested in all of the characters in this book. I just think that Carmel, or "Statch" as she's called, was the one I could connect to.
I saw this book as a sort of lament for Mexico. The current reality is control by violent drug warlords; the book attempts to explain how the US policy and war on drugs led to this situation. If only the people had a hero, they could reclaim past traditions and make a good, noble life for themselves. Marder is cast as that hero, a role that sits uncomfortably with him as it reminds him of Moon River in Vietnam, where Skelly aspired to the role of hero and was a spectacular failure.
This book is also about the personal search for vocation - what is the right thing to do with my life? Does the answer change if you know your life is likely to be shorter than you'd previously expected? All of the "good" guys in this book struggle with that question.
I originally rated this book four stars because I really enjoyed it but two things added a bit of disquiet or disbelief. After thinking through my reservations, I've decided to bump it up to five stars.
One was the character of Lourdes and Carmel's casual acceptance of sex between an old man and a teenager. Perhaps it's because I identified closely with Carmel, yet we differed strongly on this one point. As a reader, I think I get how Lourdes was used to mirror events from Vietnam and also as a source of conflict between Marder and Skelly to move the story along. She also provides a vocational example - at the beginning of the story, she's drifting because she doesn't know any better and life has let her. Marder inspires her to take a more active role in controlling her future.
The other issue that caused some disbelief was the sheer improbability of the whole thing. But when I started thinking about the novel as a literary, violent modern day version of a fairy tale, I decided it worked for me. (less)
I read this charming picture book to my cousin Shea at the Kingman Public Library yesterday. While it had a bit too much of a fashion focus for my adu...moreI read this charming picture book to my cousin Shea at the Kingman Public Library yesterday. While it had a bit too much of a fashion focus for my adult feminist tastes, it was fun to read and is probably about perfect for the average 4-6 year old girl.(less)
I read this book to the library kids at the summer reading program yesterday. The "Dig Into Reading" manual had a color,cut, and paste craft about cav...moreI read this book to the library kids at the summer reading program yesterday. The "Dig Into Reading" manual had a color,cut, and paste craft about cave salamanders. I figured chameleons matched well enough. This book is about a chameleon that always changes the wrong color. It is intended to introduce the concept of complementary colors. I loved the pictures - lots of opportunities to interact with young children. The kids had fun looking for chameleons of the same color when they were successfully camouflaged. They enjoyed spotting Leon on most pages, and they were able to predict a word in the text based on the pictures. This is a great book for preschool through first grade. (less)