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Showing posts from 2017

Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions is the first book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie that I've read.  Adichie has written several award winning, best selling novels and a short story collection.  When one of Adichie's friends writes to ask how to raise her daughter feminist, A Feminist Manifesto is the resulting compilation of fifteen suggestions for how to accomplish this task.

Dear Ijeawele is very much a manifesto for how Adichie lives and thinks as a feminist; it's a codification of her own personal feminism in addition to being a primer on feminism, the ways in which society and the world conditions, raises, views, and treats women differently from men, and gender justice issues.  It is both thoughtful and thought provoking.

Adichie's fourth suggestion begins with a warning regarding Feminism Lite or what I would still call subtle misogyny masquerading as feminism and concludes with the point that society has conditioned us to view power as m…

In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward

In Bitter Chill is the debut novel by Sarah Ward; it's the first book in the DC Connie Childs series.  I didn't realize this was the start of a series when I started reading it.  Just as when I read and finished The Dry by Jane Harper, I didn't realize that too was the start of a series.  I'm not sure how I feel about starting more book series.  But then the book series that I followed, I haven't been reading anyway, so maybe it's time for some new book series.  This series is set in Derbyshire, England.  And while the prologue didn't really grab me, once I read the first couple chapters, I was sucked in.

While there is a mystery in the present day story, it's very much tied to an unsolved kidnap from 1978.  The present day chapters are sparsely intercut with chapters that flash back to 1978.  Were it not for the kidnap case in 1978, there wouldn't be a present day mystery to solve.

In 1978 when Sophie Jenkins and Rachel Jones are kidnapped one mor…

The Widow's House by Carol Goodman

The Widow's House is Carol Goodman's 12th novel.  I've read all except for her three YA novels (Blythewood series) and the literary fiction novel that precedes this one, River Road.  I've reviewed most of them for the blog, and if you click this link, you can read those reviews.  Many of Goodman's novels have a literary theme or connection.  In this novel the main characters are writers/novelists, one of whom is a former composition professor at the local college while the other two are his former students.  This is a creepy, atmospheric, suspenseful mystery.  Goodman's story sucks you in from the beginning right through to the tense, pulse pounding ending.  It's a page turner that you won't want to put down.
Jess Martin is a famous writer, whose follow up to his stunning debut is about a decade overdue.  Clare is his wife, an equally talented writer, who has given up writing in order to take a steady job as a copy editor for a publisher.  The Martins a…

Get Out (Movie)

A Series of (Un)Fortunate Reviews' guest reviewer, Miss Shayne, has returned for the summer!  Her first review of the summer is for the movie, Get Out, which will be released soon on DVD.
Get Out directed by Jordan Peele is a mystery/thriller movie about Chris, an African American man, meeting his girlfriend Rose’s parents at their country estate for the first time. Upon arriving, Rose’s family seems unaccustomed with how to act around African Americans, so their conversations with Chris seem forced. At first, Chris assumes they are just trying their hardest to make him feel comfortable, but because they are hyperaware of his race, they go overboard.
Things start to get even stranger when Rose’s brother insists on having a physical MMA-style fight with Chris while eating dinner. Chris also notices the other African Americans that work for the family act strangely. To top things off, Rose’s mother insists on hypnotizing Chris in an attempt to get him to quit smoking. Chris refuses,…

The Dry by Jane Harper

The Dry is the debut novel by Australian writer Jane Harper.  Set in Australia, it's an expertly written mystery that doubles as a tense coming home novel.  Compared to the last book I read, Everything We Keep, The Dry features much stronger, organic writing.

When his childhood friend, Luke Hadler, butchers his family and then kills himself, Aaron Falk, now a successful federal agent, returns to the rural, farming town that literally ran him and his father out in the middle of the night over a decade ago.  Aaron is determined to stay for the funerals and be gone the next morning.  Meanwhile, the only people welcoming him home are the parents of his deceased friend Luke and his childhood friend, Gretchen, who is now a mother herself.  The whole town, save for the handful of residents who have moved there in the interim since the Falks departure, makes it clear that Falk is not welcome and regards him askance while the Deacon family openly regards him with hostility, only too happy …

Crimson Peak (DVD)

Crimson Peak stars Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Hunnam, and Uncle Bobby from Supernatural (a.k.a. Jim Beaver).  This is a suspenseful, dark, Gothic, horror movie.  While there are some scary ghosts thrown in for good measure, the meat of this story is a twisted family drama crossed with a serial killer thriller set in 1901.

Edith Cushing is a feisty lady and aspiring writer living with her father in upstate New York just after the turn of the century.  However, the family's idyll comes to a brutal halt shortly after Edith crosses paths with and falls for Sir Thomas Sharpe, a British baronet seeking capital in the U.S. for some contraption he hopes will revolutionize red clay mining or some such.  Sharpe travels with his sister, Lucille, who at first appears distant and cold.  Time reveals Lucille's distance to be something subtly off--and slightly more sinister--with her character.  Right from the get Edith's pa knows there's something not …

Everything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale

So many things to say about this book, you guys.  So. Many. Things.  I was conflicted while I was reading this book because on the one hand if some soap opera drama went down, this review was going to be one long rant.  On the other hand if nothing happened, then I would have been disappointed because I felt like I was waiting for the other shoe to drop in this novel from the second chapter.   And if nothing ever dropped, I would have felt cheated.

I'm just going to warn you now.  I may sound like an unhinged bookworm in this review because of the drama that goes down in this book.  If you watch a lot of soap operas or telenovelas or if you read a lot and have an overactive imagination, then many of the plot developments will be predictable but no less polarizing.  The epilogue, you guys, is a big, fat, heartbreaking cliffhanger.
Everything We Keep is Kerry Lonsdale's debut novel.  It's been out a while, and I think Lonsdale may have already released her second novel by n…

Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer

Pennsylvania One Book. Every Young Child. is an annual campaign that "encourages adults to read daily to the young children in their lives and to engage children in conversations and experiences around the story and illustrations."  These practices help develop early emergent literacy skills in babies and young children and provide a deeper reading experience for the child.  The campaign runs in April of each year, and each year a new title is selected.  This year's title is Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer.  You can go to for more information on the campaign, this year's title, and to see titles from previous years.  You can also access a 64 page activity guide, a fun guide, rhymes, songs, and more under the Resources tab of the main menu.
While Micha Archer has previously illustrated other books, this is the first book she has both written and illustrated.  Archer is a former kindergarten teacher who has traveled the world.  Her artwork is inf…

Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton

I've previously read and reviewed six of Sharon Bolton's novels when she was writing and publishing under the pen name S. J. Bolton.  You can click this link to see those reviews.  Among those novels were three stand alone novels and three novels that are part of the Lacey Flint series (there's a fourth Flint novel and another stand alone novel that I haven't read yet as well as another stand alone novel that will be published soon).  Little Black Lies is a return to form for Bolton in that it's a stand alone book after four Flint novels.  Bolton also harnesses the use of a unique setting as character Little Black Lies much the same way she did for her first three novels.  Little Black Lies is a tautly written, highly suspenseful story that will keep you guessing through its final pages.

Little Black Lies is set in the Falkland Islands, an archipelago located three hundred miles off the coast of Argentina.  While the islands are under British sovereignty, Argentina…

Love & Friendship (DVD)

Ya'll know I love a good Jane Austen adaptation.  So when I spotted a trailer for a new, previously unadapted novella by Austen, you know I had to see it.  Love & Friendship is the film adaptation of the novella Lady Susan written by Jane Austen around 1794; however, it was not published for nearly seven decades.  Kate Beckinsale, perhaps the best known actor in the film (at least to American audiences), plays Lady Susan Vernon.

Love & Friendship has a fast-paced plot and quick, smart dialogue.  At times because everything and everyone, it seems, is moving so quickly it can be hard to follow just what machinations are going on or how events are transpiring.  And the characters' connections serve up some confusion right off the top of the movie, but more on that later.

Lady Susan Vernon is a conniving, manipulative widow whose social reputation is in tatters at the outset of the film due to a romantic liaison with the (married) master of Langhorne where Lady Susan and …

Insanity by Cameron Jace

Our guest reveiwer, Miss Shayne, returns this week with a new review!

This semester I am taking a class called Research in Literary Studies. Before you get too bored, this class is strictly on everything Alice in Wonderland. We started by reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice in Wonderland spinoffs inspired by the original book, and watching several Alice films. I then had to choose a book that was based on the original Alice in Wonderland and write a report on it. I’m grateful I got to pick a book to read this semester because I’m often forced into reading literature that I don’t care for, but this book was a bad choice.
I decided to read Insanity by Cameron Jace. In this story, Alice Wonder has been in a mental institution for the past two years. Two years ago, she accidentally killed everyone in her class. She doesn’t remember that incident or anything she did before being admitted into the asylum. The only ray of light in her life is the tiger lily she is allowed to keep…

The Day I Lost You by Fionnuala Kearney

I remember I came across The Day I Lost You by Fionnuala Kearney sometime last year before it was published, and I had to wait months for its release.  Kearney is a British writer, and this is her second novel.  I haven't read the novel that preceded this one, but from what I read of the blurb and the first few pages, both novels deal with similar themes.  Secrets and infidelity (and probably a secret love child thrown in for good measure to make everything extra messy) figure prominently in both novels.  The Day I Lost You is an engrossing read with a side of suspense--as in who's the baby daddy and will the main character bite the bullet and finally get it on with her bff now that they're both single at the same time?

It's been ten weeks since Jess's daughter, Anna, was swallowed by an avalanche in the French Alps while on holiday, and, without a body to bury, every day has been a dark struggle to keep her head above water.  The only thing that's keeping Jes…

Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf

Missing Pieces is the sixth novel by Heather Gudenkauf and the third Gudenkauf novel that I've read.  I previously read and reviewed her debut novel, The Weight of Silence, and her third novel, One Breath Away.  Gudenkauf has another novel on the way in May called Not a Sound.  Gudenkauf consistently delivers gripping, engrossing thrillers, so I'm looking forward to Not a Sound in May.  So I read Missing Pieces, and I had opinions (lots of opinions) before I was even through the second chapter.   But I'll get to those later.

When Jack Quinlan's beloved Aunt Julia takes a fall and ends up in the hospital, Jack and his wife Sarah fly back to the small town in Iowa where Jack grew up and that Jack has endeavored to leave behind forever.  As soon as they arrive Sarah can tell that something is off with the family.  There are strange family dynamics.  There's tension between Jack's cousin Dean (Julia's son) and Jack's sister, Amy, who found Julia at the bott…

Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell

Frozen Charlotte is the third novel written by Alex Bell who has seven books to her name, some of which belong to the horror genre.  Frozen Charlotte, a young adult novel, is a creepy, strange, mysterious ghost story.  It is a terrifying read for much of the novel especially once the reader intuits just what is actually afoot regarding one of the characters.

Following a frightening and bewildering incident with a ouija board cell phone app in a cafe, Sophie's best friend, Jay, drowns in a freak biking accident on the way home.  Dealing with her grief over Jay's death and determined to find out exactly what happened that night, Sophie travels to the Isle of Skye to stay with her uncle and cousins, Cameron, Piper, and Lilas, over vacation while her parents go on a long planned trip to California.  By the end of the novel this inciting mystery will be eclipsed by the story of the disturbing evil that is source of the nail biting horror.

Sophie fears she and Jay unleashed the ghos…

As Good As Anybody by Richard Michelson

As Good As Anybody: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel's Amazing March Toward Freedom is written by Richard Michelson and illustrated by Raul Colon.  I found this title on a list of books recommended to teach children about the civil rights movement.  The book was listed on Amazon's 2010 12 Best Children's Books of the Decade and has received the Sydney Taylor Award Gold Medal, Skipping Stones Multicultural Book Award, Museum of Tolerance Once Upon A World Silver Medal, and National Parenting Publications Awards Gold Medal as well as other honors.

As Good As Anybody tells the parallel stories of the discrimination, oppression, and hardship that King and Heschel endured growing up an African-American in the American South ruled by Jim Crowe and a Jew growing up in pre-World War II Poland respectively.  Michelson shows how both men's experiences as members of historically oppressed groups lead them to become men who worked together to march for peace and e…

Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry

Under the Harrow is Flynn Berry's debut novel.  It's a fairly gripping, fast read with chapters that fly by--due in part to their brevity as well as the engrossing story.  Set in England, the story takes place in a small English village about an hour's train ride from London.

When Nora arrives to visit her sister Rachel for her semi-regular weekend visit, Nora is shocked to find a brutal blood bath in her sister's home instead, and at its center, her sister's lifeless body, viciously stabbed nearly a dozen times.  Unmoored by her grief and with little faith in the police detectives' ability to find her sister's killer, Nora embarks upon her own investigation to find both her sister's murderer and the man who brutally assaulted Rachel and left her for dead when she was a teenager.  Is it possible her sister's attacker and murderer were the same man?

The police investigation reveals to Nora the secrets her sister kept even from her.  There was Rachel&…

Escape Clause by John Sandford

Escape Clause is the ninth Virgil Flowers novel by John Sandford.  I have previously reviewed the first eight installments of this series here on the blogs.  Here's a link to the last one: Deadline.  And you can click on the John Sandford tag or search John Sandford on the blog to find the others.  In this installment Flowers takes on a wild case that quickly escalates from thievery/catnapping to murder.

When two rare, endangered tigers are catnapped from the state zoo, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension puts their best investigator on the case that could become a public relations nightmare if the tigers turn up dead.  Unfortunately scant clues and even less evidence leads to few leads for Flowers to follow up.  So he does what he does best: he starts asking questions, gathering information, and learning the local players in the illegal animal poaching and traditional medicine communities.  Eventually he bumps up against a name, Winston Peck, M.D., a shady character in the tradit…

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

Jenny Colgan is a British writer; if I counted correctly on her website, this is her nineteenth novel.  I previously read about half of Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan, and then stopped because classes started.  I never picked it back up and haven't finished it.  The Bookshop on the Corner follows a similar plot from Little Beach Street Bakery and at least one other of Colgan's novels: a woman must leave most everything behind and start over again in a location where she finds a new home, love, and friends.  The Bookshop on the Corner is Colgan's love letter to readers and book lovers everywhere (she says so in the foreword of the book).  And the main character is very much a reader and lover of books.

When Nina's library is downsized and closed, the book loving librarian loses her job.  But her misfortune presents Nina with the perfect opportunity to chase her dream of opening a small bookshop.  And that's exactly what she does.  She finds a van for sa…

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

Rebecca Solnit is the author of 15 books, among them Men Explain Things to Me, as well as essays and atlases.  The tagline on the home page of her website describes Solnit as "writer, historian, and activist."  Men Explain Things to Me is a slim volume of essays including the essay that lends its title to the volume.  I don't remember where or how I first came across Men Explain Things to Me, but it has been on my to-read list for quite a while.  It begins with the essay of the same title which is a deep exploration of the phenomenon now popularly referred to as "mansplaining."

The essays in this collection explore a number of ideas that share a common theme: society's silencing of women in a multitude of ways.  There is the silencing of women's voices through social mores ingrained in women from childhood through adulthood that condition the devaluation of the female voice.  Solnit also traces much of the violence that men commit against women to the…

Fire by Kristin Cashore

Miss Shayne returns this week with the review for the second installment of the Graceling Realm series by Kristin Cashore.  Read on for her thoughts about Fire by Kristin Cashore!

As I mentioned in my blog post reviewing Graceling by Kristin Cashore, I wasn’t expecting another book in this series. However, this book is a partner to Graceling. It is set in an area adjacent to the realm where Graceling takes place. However, the areas (somehow) don’t know of one another and the superhuman phenomenon is different. In this land, instead of people being graced with abilities, there are monsters in the shape of animals and humans. For example, there are regular raptors and there are monster raptors that come in a variety of colors. These monsters are so enchanting; they can lure people to their deaths.

Fire (appropriately named because her hair is like fire) is the last of the human monsters. She is beautiful and has the ability to manipulate people’s thoughts. Her father was also a human mo…

Miss Cherrie's Staff Picks 2016

This is the last post for the Staff Picks of 2016, and this week Miss Cherrie shares her favorite reads from the past year.  It's about a month into 2017, and we're already reading here at the library (who are we kidding?  We never stop reading here!).   Ms. Angie and the rest of the staff can't wait for the great books, movies, and music the rest of the year will bring!

Miss Cherrie's two favorite books from 2016 are:

The Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

Sidney Chambers and the Dangers of Temptation by James Runcie

It's time for some straight talk.  I'm feeling like I'm over the Grantchester Mysteries as a book series but not necessarily as a TV series.  There was a spell earlier this year where I read a couple books in a row from this series, and Sidney's whole act about being "conflicted" about solving crimes/mysteries and always being pulled into any hint of trouble in the vicinity of Grantchester (and now Ely) worked on my nerves.  Like either solve mysteries or don't, either prioritize your family over your mystery solving or don't, but this fretting and obsessing over this work/family/mystery solving balance is getting old.  Well, guess what!  It seems Sidney heard and heeded my advice.  The fretting/obsessing over his mystery solving and whether or not he should be doing it is at a minimum in this installment of the Grantchester Mysteries.

It's the late 1960's in Sidney Chambers and the Dangers of Temptation by James Runcie, and this is the most …

Ms. Angie's 2016 Staff Picks

This week Ms. Angie is sharing her favorite books and movies from the past years!  Please click the title to read the review.


Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

What Strange Creatures by Emily Arsenault

Lost Among the Living by Simone St. James


Happy Valley season 1

I'm looking forward to reading the new releases from Anna McPartlin, Emily Arsenault, and Simone St. James in 2017 as well as watching the new season of Mercy Street.

Graceling by Kristen Cashore

Miss Shayne returns with a new book review.  Read on to find out what she's reading!

This book has been on my bookshelf at home since summer. I have a habit of collecting books with every intention of reading them, only to discover I don’t have enough time to read my ever-growing library. I was determined to pick something out and read it over my winter break. I decided on Graceling by Kristen Cashore mostly because I thought it wasn’t part of a series. As it turns out, it’s a trilogy. So I have my work cut out for me.

In this book, some people have incredible abilities called graces. These graces range from mind reading to predicting weather patterns to baking good bread. A person could be graced with anything—even if it’s useless. In most countries, the graced usually strike fear into the hearts of people who are not graced. In Katsa’s case, this is especially true. She has the ability to fight really well and this has resulted in her harming several people and killing one.