Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Monday, August 18, 2014
It has been ten years since Kit "Kick" Lannigan was rescued from the kind of hell that only exists in our nightmares. It has been a long ten years, but Kick has come along way from the eleven year old that was rescued that night ten years ago. Kick has been dedicated to never becoming a victim again by training in every arena of self-defense known to man. And she works diligently to help find those who have fallen victim to the pedophiles that still have Kick's "movies" and think of her as a star. With her tenth anniversary of freedom closing in, Kick is on edge as it is when John Bishop enters her life. Bishop is a man who works for a man who knows how to get stuff done. He knows people, he can access information that normal people only imagine exists, he is the definition of powerful. Even though he has all of that power, Bishop needs Kick's help. Another young girl has gone missing and there are similarities to Kick's past and only Kick can help find her. Will Kick let down her guard long enough to trust Bishop and help find this girl? Is Kick willing to face old demons and do what it takes to help Bishop?
One Kick is one kick ass novel. It is hardcore gritty and it will take a strong person to handle the gritty subject matter of child porn and pedophilia, but it is so worth the read. Kick is one of the best female characters I have "met" in a long time. She has this tough exterior that is proud of her Glock and picks the lock on handcuffs to relax. But she is vulnerable and has a heart , but only allows her friend, James and her dog, Monster inside that heart. Then there is Bishop, he is such an enigma, a guy who only reveals snip-its of information about himself and only when he thinks it will get him further with Kick. As the book progressed, the tempo increased and I felt my heart racing , as if I were there. When things went down with James and Monster, I felt myself getting angry and protective on behalf of Kick. It was easily the most intense book I have read yet this year.
Bottom line, I have been a fan of Chelsea Cain since her very first Archie/Gretchen novel. One Kick is better. The word "fresh" doesn't seem right for a story so dark, but Kick is a character that we have never seen before. I don't know where Cain will take us in Kick's world, but I know that it is going to be a hell of a ride and I can't wait.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Whether we care to admit it or not the house you grew up in plays a large part in the person we become as an adult. Not just your family, but the actual home that housed your family. On the outside the Bird family looked normal. Meg is the oldest and the most "together" of the siblings, next is Beth. She is the free-spirit, a dreamer. The twins round out the family. Rhys and Rory. Their parents, Lorelei and Colin have an unremarkable marriage. They live a normal, if not cluttered existence. Until one Easter Sunday when one tragic act will change their world and their house forever. Everyone deals with the tragedy in their own way, and Lorelei deals with it by collecting stuff. Like egg carton shells and tea towels, she collects so much stuff that the family is drowning in it. Lorelei shocks her family with her excessive collecting, but she shocks them even more when she declares that she is in love with her next door neighbor and is now a lesbian. The splintered Bird family is now shattered. The remaining Bird children scatter across the globe leaving Lorelei to collect with her new partner. Will Lorelei ever be able to get out from under the weight of her memories or her stuff? Will her children ever forgive her for her collections and come home to see her? Will the Bird children ever be able to forgive themselves when they don't come back to see her?
The House We Grew Up In starts in present day and through a series of flashbacks the reader starts to put together the pieces of the Bird family puzzle. Through births and deaths and all kinds of relationships this book watches how the Bird family handles everything. The amount of loss that takes place in this book will take your breath away. With every piece of junk that Lorelei brings into the house they all lose something. Space, trust, dignity. Each of the Bird children have their strengths and their weaknesses, all that stem back to what happened that Easter day so long ago. Meg went to the extreme opposite of her mother, controlled and organized to a fault. Beth buries her feelings about everything the way Lorelei is burying the house and Rory is letting the guilt eat him from the inside out. Watching the siblings interact (or not depending on the case) is a fascinating study in sibling relationships and just how they ebb and flow through the decades . But no matter where the kids are, who they became is all because of the house they grew up in.
Bottom line, The House We Grew Up In takes a popular reality television show topic, hoarding, and humanize it in a way that will break your heart. Hoarding is not a solitary disease, it infects entire families. The House We Grew Up In is one of those books that will stay with you long after you finish the last page.
Saturday, August 9, 2014
The parents of students at the Pirriwee School are almost like something out of a soap opera your grandmother might watch on daytime television. Maddie is one of the more experienced parents, her older son, Fred, has already been through the Kinder class and Chloe is getting ready to start. Celeste is married to the wealthy hedge fund manager, Perry, and their twin boys will be starting the Kinder class, as well. And they meet Jane, the young single mother who's son Ziggy is starting the same Kinder class. The three women meet on the day or orientation and have become fast friends, but when they get to the orientation an "incident" casts a shadow on the day and sets the tone for the year to come. A year of secrets, lies, violence, and whispers culminate in a school Trivia Night that will leave the school reeling, a parent dead, and the police trying to determine what really happened that night on the balcony. Will the Pirriwee parents protect their own or will they continue to throw each other to the wolves?
I was quickly sucked into Big Little Lies. Immediately I found myself liking Maddie. She is intelligent, funny, and fiercely protective of her friends. She was the kind of character that I would love to hang out with for "erotic book club" or a fun glass of champagne. Watching her quickly take Jane under her wing was great. So many of the mom's at school were just looking for an excuse to shun the young and pretty single mom, but Maddie wouldn't back down for nothing and that makes her my new literary BFF. Then there is the whole Celeste/Perry relationship. I just don't even know where to begin with those two. On the outside it appeared as if Celeste had everything any woman could possibly want, but it just goes to show you that you never know what happens behind closed doors. She was an expert at lying to herself and her friends. There are so many other sub-plots that feed into the "big event" that happened at Trivia Night. Like Maddie's ex and his new wife, Bonnie. Then there is the whole bullying thing that gets wickedly out of hand. And the true paternity of Jane's son, Ziggy. So many little things that also feed into the events of that night. I feel that the story ended in the best possible way and it left me feeling satisfied. It is always great when an author leaves you feeling as if everything ended the way it was supposed to.
Bottom line, Big Little Lies is a book that will keep you on the edge of the seat for as long as it takes you to fly through the pages. Lies, deceit, abuse, and murder is just a sampling of what you will encounter in this wonderful little book. Gather your girlfriends and pour a glass of wine , Little Big Lies is an excellent choice for your next book club selection.
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Maddie and her friends have vacationed together every August for nearly the last twenty-five years. Maddie, Barb, Rachel, and Melinda all met when their husbands were finishing med school at Vanderbilt. They have not had their August vacation for the past few years, after Melinda died. But now Melinda's husband has remarried and The Girls of August are gathering for one more vacation on a remote island of the coast of South Carolina. Teddy's new wife, Baby, is finding it hard to fit in with the other women who have been friends for so long. As their vacation days lazily pass, it becomes clear that each of the women are hiding something big. Will their friendship survive this year's vacation? And will the three "original" Girls of August ever forgive Baby for her transgression of being half of their age?
The Girls of August was my first book by the prolific Anne Rivers Siddons and I must say that I was a bit disappointed. At just 240 pages the book was really a quick read and I almost felt as if I were reading an abridged version of the book. The characters were almost cliched Southern women and I felt like we missed out on the depth that was really there. Especially with Baby, she speaks Arabic for Pete's sake, there should have been more. The story was only told from Maddie's view point and I think that is where the story fell short. If the book had been one of those alternate voices books we might have gotten to know the other characters better. But, having said all of that, I didn't hate the book, I was just expecting something more. The scenery of Tiger Island was depicted well and left me longing for a beach-side home where I could sleep to the sound of the ocean and sleep with the ocean breeze coming through the window.
Bottom line, while I was disappointed with The Girls of August, it was still a beach read. With summer winding down (can you even believe that we are already into August??) we need to get as many beach reads in as we can before school starts and the leaves start to turn. Keep your expectations low and you won't be disappointed.
Monday, August 4, 2014
Mia Dennett has always been a disappointment to her father, Judge Dennett. He always had plans for his two daughters to follow in his legal footsteps, yet Mia never wanted to do exactly what her father wanted. Instead she found an interest in art and went to school to be an art teacher. So rather than being the high powered attorney like her sister, Mia is an art teacher in the inner city, making just a fraction of what the rest of her wealthy family makes. One day Mia doesn't show up at work and with the help of Detective Gabe Hoffman, the Dennetts discover that Mia left the bar the night before with a strange man and she hasn't been seen since. Slowly Detective Hoffman starts to piece things together and realizes that she was kidnapped by a man, Colin Thatcher. He doesn't know why, there has been no ransom demand, he doesn't know where they have taken her. And then Mia is found and they are still no closer to having answers. She has blocked everything out from her time away and demands to be called Chloe. Who was behind her kidnapping and why did they kidnap her? And what happened to cause her to block everything out from those month?
The Good Girl is one of those books that will keep you guessing. It is told in alternate voices from all sides of the kidnapping. Mia's, Mrs. Dennett's, Detective Hoffman's and the kidnapper. Colin Thatcher. The further you get into the story the more you start to put together why Colin did what he did. He didn't plan for things to turn out the way they did, but it happened and he just goes with it, regardless of his regrets. Over her months of captivity, Mia starts to understand Colin more than she ever thought possible. Some would call it Stockholm Syndrome, others would call it more. But it is easy to become sympathetic to Colin, to Mia, and Mrs. Dennett. It is clear early on that the Judge is just a cold-hearted jackass and it is easy to see where the friction between him and Mia started. Meanwhile, the Detective is a compassionate man just trying to do his job and help a heartbroken mother. I will say that about three-quarters of the way through the book I started to suspect the big "twist" but that didn't stop me from racing to the last page to find out if I was right.
Bottom line, The Good Girl, is a very suspenseful novel. The alternating voices makes it really hard for the reader to see things as "black or white" and I loved that. I think by the time you get to the end of the book your head will be spinning from the wild conclusion, but aren't those books the best?
Thursday, July 31, 2014
Monday, July 28, 2014
I think anyone who has been married can agree that sometimes marriage is really hard work. In my opinion a successful marriage is one where the couple decides to "stick it out" despite everything they go through. After I Do delves into one couple's marriage and the drastic measures they take with the hope of saving their marriage. The book is told from Lauren's perspective and while she felt like she was the wronged party, it becomes pretty evident that she had an equal part in the implosion of their marriage. Through a series of emails, though, we get to see some of Ryan's thoughts on the matter and it is easy to see that he has been just as destroyed by the turn their marriage has taken, too. It made my heart ache to see the pain that both of them were in throughout this book. I loved how Lauren's family was there for her and supported her even when they clearly did not understand why they took this break. It just goes to show what unconditional love can do for a person. I wasn't sure how the book would end, but I was very satisfied with the conclusion. Things wrapped up nicely and I truly believe that both Ryan and Lauren were going to get their "happy ever after."
Bottom line, I think anyone who has been married can agree that sometimes marriage is really hard work. After I Do is a quick and emotional read about a couple on the brink of divorce and the steps they take to try and save their marriage. The question, though, is will it be enough?
JUST THE FACTS:
After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: July 1, 2014
Buy it here!
Friday, July 25, 2014
Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday
Publication Date: July 8, 2014
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication Date: June 17, 2017
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Summer House with Swimming Pool
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Publication Date: June 3, 2014
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: June 10, 2014
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
The Book of Life
Publisher: Penguin Group
Publication Date: July 15, 2014
Q: In your day job, you are a professor of history and science at the University of Southern California and have focused on alchemy in your research. What aspects of this intersection between science and magic do you hope readers will pick up on while reading THE BOOK OF LIFE? There’s quite a bit more lab work in this book!
A. There is. Welcome back to the present! What I hope readers come to appreciate is that science—past or present—is nothing more than a method for asking and answering questions about the world and our place in it. Once, some of those questions were answered alchemically. Today, they might be answered biochemically and genetically. In the future? Who knows. But Matthew is right in suggesting that there are really remarkably few scientific questions and we have been posing them for a very long time. Two of them are: who am I? why am I here?
Q: Much of the conflict in the book seems to mirror issues of race and sexuality in our society, and there seems to be a definite moral conclusion to THE BOOK OF LIFE. Could you discuss this? Do you find that a strength of fantasy novels is their ability to not only to allow readers to escape, but to also challenge them to fact important moral issues?
A. Human beings like to sort and categorize. We have done this since the beginnings of recorded history, and probably well back beyond that point. One of the most common ways to do that is to group things that are “alike” and things that are “different.” Often, we fear what is not like us. Many of the world’s ills have stemmed from someone (or a group of someones) deciding what is different is also dangerous. Witches, women, people of color, people of different faiths, people of different sexual orientations—all have been targets of this process of singling others out and labeling them different and therefore undesirable. Like my interest in exploring what a family is, the issue of difference and respect for difference (rather than fear) informed every page of the All Souls Trilogy. And yes, I do think that dealing with fantastic creatures like daemons, vampires, and witches rather than confronting issues of race or sexuality directly can enable readers to think through these issues in a useful way and perhaps come to different conclusions about members of their own families and communities. As I often say when people ask me why supernatural creatures are so popular these days: witches and vampires are monsters to think with.
Q: From the moment Matthew and a pregnant Diana arrive back at Sept-Tours and reinstate themselves back into a sprawling family of witches and vampires, it becomes clear that the meaning of family will be an important idea for THE BOOK OF LIFE. How does this unify the whole series? Did you draw on your own life?
A. Since time immemorial the family has been an important way for people to organize themselves in the world. In the past, the “traditional” family was a sprawling and blended unit that embraced immediate relatives, in-laws and their immediate families, servants, orphaned children, the children your partner might bring into a family from a previous relationship, and other dependents. Marriage was an equally flexible and elastic concept in many places and times. Given how old my vampires are, and the fact that witches are the keepers of tradition, I wanted to explore from the very first page of the series the truly traditional basis of family: unqualified love and mutual responsibility. That is certainly the meaning of family that my parents taught me.
Q: While there are entire genres devoted to stories of witches, vampires, and ghosts, the idea of a weaver – a witch who weaves original spells – feels very unique to THE BOOK OF LIFE. What resources helped you gain inspiration for Diana’s uniqueness?
A. Believe it or not, my inspiration for weaving came from a branch of mathematics called topology. I became intrigued by mathematical theories of mutability to go along with my alchemical theories of mutability and change. Topology is a mathematical study of shapes and spaces that theorizes how far something can be stretched or twisted without breaking. You could say it’s a mathematical theory of connectivity and continuity (two familiar themes to any reader of the All Souls Trilogy). I wondered if I could come up with a theory of magic that could be comfortably contained within mathematics, one in which magic could be seen to shape and twist reality without breaking it. I used fabric as a metaphor for this worldview with threads and colors shaping human perceptions. Weavers became the witches who were talented at seeing and manipulating the underlying fabric. In topology, mathematicians study knots—unbreakable knots with their ends fused together that can be twisted and shaped. Soon the mathematics and mechanics of Diana’s magic came into focus.
Q: A Discovery of Witches debuted at # 2 on the New York Times bestseller list and Shadow of Night debuted at #1. What has been your reaction to the outpouring of love for the All Souls Trilogy? Was it surprising how taken fans were with Diana and Matthew’s story?
A. It has been amazing—and a bit overwhelming. I was surprised by how quickly readers embraced two central characters who have a considerable number of quirks and challenge our typical notion of what a heroine or hero should be. And I continue to be amazed whenever a new reader pops up, whether one in the US or somewhere like Finland or Japan—to tell me how much they enjoyed being caught up in the world of the Bishops and de Clemonts. Sometimes when I meet readers they ask me how their friends are doing—meaning Diana, or Matthew, or Miriam. That’s an extraordinary experience for a writer.
Q: Diana and Matthew, once again, move around to quite a number of locations in THE BOOK OF LIFE, including New Haven, New Orleans, and a few of our favorite old haunts like Oxford, Madison, and Sept-Tours. What inspired you to place your characters in these locations? Have you visited them yourself?
A. As a writer, I really need to experience the places I write about in my books. I want to know what it smells like, how the air feels when it changes direction, the way the sunlight strikes the windowsill in the morning, the sound of birds and insects. Not every writer may require this, but I do. So I spent time not only in New Haven but undertaking research at the Beinecke Library so that I could understand the rhythms of Diana’s day there. I visited New Orleans several times to imagine my vampires into them. All of the locations I pick are steeped in history and stories about past inhabitants—perfect fuel for any writer’s creative fire.
Q: Did you know back when you wrote A Discovery of Witches how the story would conclude in THE BOOK OF LIFE? Did the direction change once you began the writing process?
A. I knew how the trilogy would end, but I didn’t know exactly how we would get there. The story was well thought out through the beginning of what became The Book of Life, but the chunk between that beginning and the ending (which is as I envisioned it) did change. In part that was because what I had sketched out was too ambitious and complicated—the perils of being not only a first-time trilogy writer but also a first time author. It was very important to me that I resolve and tie up all the threads already in the story so readers had a satisfying conclusion. Early in the writing of The Book of Life it became clear that this wasn’t going to give me much time to introduce new characters or plot twists. I now understand why so many trilogies have four, five, six—or more—books in them. Finishing the trilogy as a trilogy required a lot of determination and a very thick pair of blinders as I left behind characters and story lines that would take me too far from the central story of Diana, Matthew, and the Book of Life.
Q: A Discovery of Witches begins with Diana Bishop stumbling across a lost, enchanted manuscript called Ashmole 782 in Oxford’s Bodleian Library, and the secrets contained in the manuscript are at long last revealed in THE BOOK OF LIFE. You had a similar experience while you were completing your dissertation. What was the story behind your discovery? And how did it inspire the creation of these novels?
A. I did discover a manuscript—not an enchanted one, alas—in the Bodleian Library. It was a manuscript owned by Queen Elizabeth’s astrologer, the mathematician and alchemist John Dee. In the 1570s and 1580s he became interested in using a crystal ball to talk to angels. The angels gave him all kinds of instructions on how to manage his life at home, his work—they even told him to pack up his family and belongings and go to far-away Poland and Prague. In the conversations, Dee asked the angels about a mysterious book in his library called “the Book of Soyga” or “Aldaraia.” No one had ever been able to find it, even though many of Dee’s other books survive in libraries throughout the world. In the summer of 1994 I was spending time in Oxford between finishing my doctorate and starting my first job. It was a wonderfully creative time, since I had no deadlines to worry about and my dissertation on Dee’s angel conversations was complete. As with most discoveries, this discovery of a “lost” manuscript was entirely accidental. I was looking for something else in the Bodleian’s catalogue and in the upper corner of the page was a reference to a book called “Aldaraia.” I knew it couldn’t be Dee’s book, but I called it up anyway. And it turned out it WAS the book (or at least a copy of it). With the help of the Bodleian’s Keeper of Rare Books, I located another copy in the British Library.
Q: Are there other lost books like this in the world?
A. Absolutely! Entire books have been written about famous lost volumes—including works by Plato, Aristotle, and Shakespeare to name just a few. Libraries are full of such treasures, some of them unrecognized and others simply misfiled or mislabeled. And we find lost books outside of libraries, too. In January 2006, a completely unknown manuscript belonging to one of the 17th century’s most prominent scientists, Robert Hooke, was discovered when someone was having the contents of their house valued for auction. The manuscript included minutes of early Royal Society meetings that we presumed were lost forever.
Q: Shadow of Night and A Discovery of Witches have often been compared to young adult fantasy like Twilight, with the caveat that this series is for adults interested in history, science, and academics. Unlike Bella and Edward, Matthew and Diana are card-carrying members of academia who meet in the library of one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Are these characters based on something you found missing in the fantasy genre?
A. There are a lot of adults reading young adult books, and for good reason. Authors who specialize in the young adult market are writing original, compelling stories that can make even the most cynical grownups believe in magic. In writing A Discovery of Witches, I wanted to give adult readers a world no less magical, no less surprising and delightful, but one that included grown-up concerns and activities. These are not your children’s vampires and witches.Bottom Line, the All Souls trilogy is a fun, engaging series that sweeps you across places and times with two of the greatest characters to ever grace literature. The Book of Life is an excellent and satisfying conclusion to the series, but you will get lost if you haven't read the entire series. But if you haven't, I have but one question. Why not?
Monday, July 14, 2014
Shadow of Night
Publisher: Penguin Group
Publication Date: July 10, 2012
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Monday, July 7, 2014
Publisher: Harper Collins - Publication Date: July 8, 2014
Saturday, July 5, 2014
Don't Talk to Strangers
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: July 1, 2014
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Monday, June 30, 2014
One Plus One
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Publication Date: July 1, 2014
Sunday, June 29, 2014
Orange is the New Black
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication Date: April 6, 2010
Saturday, June 28, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: April 8, 2014
Monday, June 23, 2014
The Glass Kitchen
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: June 17, 2014