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Showing posts from June, 2011

The Last Will of Moira Leahy by Therese Walsh

The Last Will of Moira Leahy is Therese Walsh's debut novel.  It's breathtaking, heart pounding, tragic, and there's a bit of an unexpected twist to one part of the story that leads to a slightly hokey scene near the end, but I enjoyed the book.  The author does an expert job of drawing the characters--especially the smarmy, sinister 'villain.'

Moira and Maeve are twins who were once so close they spoke their own language and knew what the other was feeling.  In their sixteenth year Moira, driven by jealousy and spurned affections,  embarks on a secret love affair built on betrayal and deception.  The consequences irrevocably rend her family in pieces and destroy her relationship with her twin forever.

Over nine years later Maeve has left home and is teaching at a university.  She's left behind her beloved music and blocked out her past at the expense of love and friendships.  She buries herself in her work and keeps her almost boyfriend at a distance.  However…

The Summer We Read Gatsby by Danielle Ganek

The Summer We Read Gatsby is Danielle Ganek's second novel.  I haven't read her first one, but since Summer was pretty good, and I'm now thinking about trying out her debut novel.  Ganek writes long chapters which is something I don't appreciate because of the way I read a book.  However, after the first few chapters, the chapters and the book go very quickly once you get caught up its fictional world.  This is largely due to the witty writing and the vivid characters as well as the bits of mysterious intrigue about a 'thing of utmost value,' a stolen painting, and a gorgeous house guest with a strange, murky past who refuses to leave.

Peck and Cassie's beloved Aunt Lydia, the last of their paternal relatives, has died.  Lydia's will bequeaths her summer home in the Hamptons and all its contents to her nieces with specific instructions to spend a final month in the house during which Lydia hopes that they'll find something of utmost value before the…

Graveminder by Melissa Mars

Graveminder by Melissa Marr is the author's first adult novel.  She's well known in the young adult fiction world for her best selling Wicked Lovely series that details the exploits of some royal courts in the fey world.  While neither the book jacket nor the author's website says that Graveminder is the start a new series, the book itself has that kind of feeling to it because there a lot of questions left open regarding some minor characters in the book etc.  I also read in the press release for the Graveminder (which you can find at the author's website) that the book is already being developed into a television series.  This intrigues me, and I will say that I'm more likely to watch the series than read it.  Unless the tv series turns out be crap or populated by annoying actors that I hate, in which case I won't be watching it either.

Graveminder sets forth a unique world contained in a small town, and it also puts a new spin on the undead  concept (they are…

Invisible Boy by Cornelia Read

Invisible Boy is Cornelia Read's third and most recent installment in the Madeline Dare series.  Thus far each book in the series takes place about a year after its predecessor in a different setting.  This makes me wonder where we'll find Madeline and her husband living in the next book especially considering the life altering development in their personal lives that was revealed in the closing pages of the book.  Might we next find them in Ohio living near Madeline's friend Ellis who last made an appearance in the debut Dare novel?  We'll have to wait until next year to find out because if the author follows her previous pattern of releasing a new novel every two years, the next one won't drop until sometime in 2012.

By now we all know how trouble follows Madeline, and it shows up like clockwork on a yearly basis despite Madeline putting geographical distance between herself and the site of her previous encounters with life endangering trouble with a capital T. …

The Crazy School by Cornelia Read

The Crazy School is the second installment in Cornelia Read's Madeline Dare series.  The Crazy School, both as a book and as a place, is populated by characters who are all different kinds of crazy for all different kinds of reasons.  A Field of Darkness (Crazy's predecessor)  started off with a killer first line/paragraph that set the bar and tone for the rest of that novel.  The Crazy School doesn't have that distinction.  However, the book very quickly hooks the reader--once the story gets going, it's very hard to put down, and the chapters fly by.

It's the year after the events of A Field of Darkness.  While these events are referenced obliquely once or twice, it would be very easy for someone to jump into the series starting with this book and then catch up with the first one.  Me, I like to read a series in order.  Okay, let's just be honest: I HAVE to read a series in order, so I started with the first one and continued on through the third and most rece…

A Field of Darkness by Cornelia Read

A Field of Darkness is the first in a new series.  Read has released two more installments after this one (and the reviews for those will be forthcoming).  There is a marked difference in the feel and tone between Field and its successors.  It makes me wonder if maybe the first one was first intended as a stand alone novel.  Nevertheless this (and its successors) is a gripping mystery story related by a sharp tongued, witty narrator.  It's a page turner, very hard to put down and is populated with elements that always seem to intrigue me: family history, fairy tales and murder.

It's 1988, and Madeline Dare is unhappily ensconced in Syracuse, New York, her husband's hometown.  Though she writes for a local, free, weekly newspaper, she is the opposite of the intrepid, investigative reporter chomping at the bit for her big break.  Madeline is quite happy writing the fluff lifestyle and home pieces for the newspaper.  Then a chilling, unsolved, double murder drops into her lap…

As Husbands Go by Susan Isaacs

As Husbands Go is the first book by Susan Isaacs that I've read.  I was on the fence for the first fifty pages or so about whether or not I was going to finish reading it or abandon ship.  I feel as if the blurb on the inside book flap is slightly misleading (and I always feel gypped when I find this the case with a book)--the blurb makes it sound as if the mystery and intrigue and flashy granny are larger parts of the book than they turn out to be.  The mystery and intrigue don't get cranked up in earnest until at least halfway into the book and the flashy granny doesn't make an appearance until halfway through and doesn't become a fixture until well past the point.  So those were my main quibbles with the book for the most part.

I like the clever dual meaning of the title.  And the characters who populate the story are wild, witty, hilarious, and superficial (though quite self aware of their own superficiality).  It is largely the characters' personalities and th…

The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant

The Vanishing of Katharina Linden is Helen Grant's debut novel; her follow up, The Glass Demon,  drops this month.  I had to get The Vanishing through Interlibrary Loan because it is not available in county.  It is a great book, was worth the wait, and I hope some library in county gets a copy sometime.  Scratch that--I hope more that somebody gets The Glass Demon in county because I also want to read that and will have to wait six months before I can request it through ILL otherwise (hint, hint).

The setting is small town Germany in 1999; the story is narrated by a girl many years after the events of the year she was ten years old.

Pia is like any other girl in her small hometown until her grandmother explodes in flames at the family's Advent dinner due to granny's overzealous use of hair spray in close proximity to an open flame.  After this happens the story of the ordeal in all its many false incarnations spreads like wildfire all over town and through school.  Pia be…

The Language of Secrets by Dianne Dixon

The Language of Secrets is Dianne Dixon's debut novel.  It's a gripping, suspenseful, heartbreaking mystery that reveals a heinous, selfish crime that's been buried for decades by lies and by secrets. The saddest (and perhaps most frustrating) part is that the reader is privy to the complete story due to a narrative that alternates between the present in which the protagonist does his best to dig up the answers to resolve the puzzle that is his past and the events as they occur in the past.

Justin moves back to California for a job and, urged by his wife, returns to his childhood home to reconnect with his parents from whom he's been estranged for years.  But he's too late because his mother and father have died and when Justin tracks down their graves, he is shocked to discover a third next to theirs that bears his own name and the date of his death years before.

This bewildering and shocking discovery sets Justin on a journey into his past guided by his disjointe…

Men and Dogs by Katie Crouch

Men and Dogs by Katie Crouch is the author's second novel.  I haven't read her first one, and I'm not sure if I will.  Men and Dogs is a good book, but it wasn't one that just blew me away and made me an instant fan of the author and think, oh my god, let me read ALL of her books and every future book she releases because she is so good!  Part of this is because the ending is not tied up in a neat little bow, and the mystery with which the protagonist is obsessed and that builds throughout the book doesn't reach any sort of concrete resolution.  And I was expecting something along these lines the way the mystery was billed on the inside flap blurb and then gathers steam throughout the book.  Ultimately I think the book is more about the protagonist's journey to make peace with the unanswered questions concerning the tragedy of her childhood as opposed to being about solving for once and for all the uncertainty of her father's fate with which she's been …