Thursday, February 27, 2014

Death Angel: a novel by Linda Fairstein

Hardcover: 369 p.
Publisher: Dutton Books; 2013

Summary: "ADA Alexandra “Coop” Cooper, a Manhattan sex crimes prosecutor digs into the history of Central Park when the murdered body of a teenage girl is found near Bethesda Fountain with its angel statuette. With help from detective pals Mercer Wallace and Mike Chapman, Coop soon connects the crime to the park’s forgotten 19th-century black enclave, Seneca Village, and a railroad tycoon who fashioned extravagant figurines for his daughter. Simmering under the tense investigation is the chemistry between Mike and Coop—which eventually kindles the wrath of Mike’s ex-lover, Judge Jessica Pell. After another female victim turns up, Coop gets on the trail of a rapist will a tell-tale clue—the words “Kill Coop” tattooed on his hand." Publishers Weekly

My thoughts: The Alexandra Cooper novels are a fast read. This is the 15th in the series. Like all series, it is easier to read the books in order, however, Fairstein does a good job in updating the reader of past events. I love the way Ms Fairstein, picks an area in New York, and weaves the history of the area into her novels.  The reader always comes away with a bit of history besides a good read.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

  • Hardcover: 318 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Books; 1st edition (January 10, 2012)

At 16, Hazel Grace Lancaster, a three-year stage IV–cancer survivor, is clinically depressed. To help her deal with this, her doctor sends her to a weekly support group where she meets Augustus Waters, a fellow cancer survivor, and the two fall in love. Both kids are preternaturally intelligent, and Hazel is fascinated with a novel about cancer called An Imperial Affliction. Most particularly, she longs to know what happened to its characters after an ambiguous ending. To find out, the enterprising Augustus makes it possible for them to travel to Amsterdam, where Imperial’s author, an expatriate American, lives. What happens when they meet him must be left to readers to discover. Suffice it to say, it is significant. Writing about kids with cancer is an invitation to sentimentality and pathos—or worse, in unskilled hands, bathos. Happily, Green is able to transcend such pitfalls in his best and most ambitious novel to date. Beautifully conceived and executed, this story artfully examines the largest possible considerations—life, love, and death—with sensitivity, intelligence, honesty, and integrity. In the process, Green shows his readers what it is like to live with cancer, sometimes no more than a breath or a heartbeat away from death. But it is life that Green spiritedly celebrates here, even while acknowledging its pain. In its every aspect, this novel is a triumph. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Green’s promotional genius is a force of nature. After announcing he would sign all 150,000 copies of this title’s first print run, it shot to the top of Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s best-seller lists six months before publication. Grades 9-12. --Michael Cart

My Thoughts - In discussing this book with other staff members, we began our discussion by looking at the jacket cover - We see two clouds - I black cloud and a white cloud - we wondered about the significance of the clouds.  As I read the book, the cover became more understandable.  The lives of our two main characters, Hazel and Gus are like they clouds - they both experience life with cloudy and puffy clouds days and and that is what make them who they are.  A YA title that will appeal to a wide range of readers and I would recommend to all who wonder about life, death, and how to be a teen in today's world.

Jacob's Oath by Martin Fletcher

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (October 8, 2013)

As World War II winds to a close, Europe's roads are clogged with twenty million exhausted refugees walking home. Among them are Jacob and Sarah, lonely Holocaust survivors who meet in Heidelberg. But Jacob is consumed with hatred and cannot rest until he has killed his brother’s murderer, a concentration camp guard nicknamed "The Rat." Now he must choose between revenge and love, between avenging the past and building a future.

My Thoughts:  A wonderful story - Jacob and Sarah's story is amazing.  Jacob and Sarah, fictional characters but so believable and I can imagine that there may have been many true stories written similar to Jacob's Oath.    I could not help but try to put myself in the place of Jacob and Sarah and wonder if I could have endured the lives that they experienced.  Could I have followed through with the oath?  How would I have moved on with my life?  A great story.

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam; 1st Printing edition (July 30, 2013)

Australian author Moriarty, in her fifth novel, puts three women in an impossible situation and doesn't cut them any slack. Cecilia Fitzpatrick lives to be perfect: a perfect marriage, three perfect daughters, and a perfectly organized life. Then she finds a letter from her husband, John-Paul, to be opened only in the event of his death. She opens it anyway, and everything she believed is thrown into doubt. Meanwhile, Tess O'Leary's husband, Will, and her cousin and best friend, Felicity, confess they've fallen in love, so Tess takes her young son, Liam, and goes to Sydney to live with her mother. There she meets up with an old boyfriend, Connor Whitby, while enrolling Liam in St. Angela's Primary School, where Cecilia is the star mother. Rachel Crowley, the school secretary, believes that Connor, St. Angela's PE teacher, is the man who, nearly three decades before, got away with murdering her daughter—a daughter for whom she is still grieving.

My Thoughts - On picking up this book, one thinks that they are going to be reading just a light romance but getting into the book, it is much more.  Romance - yes but also to think about.  All of the characters in the book have to deal with their present situations but they also must deal with the past.   Everyone has secrets in their lives - things they have done, things they have said, and actions taken in their past so how does a person reconcile it with the present before they can even think of a future.  

I enjoyed the book, learned to like the characters with their faults and secrets, and cared about what happened to them in the future.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

  •  756 pages (large print)
  • Publisher: Mulholland Books (April 30, 2013)

A brilliant mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel's suicide.

After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.

Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.

You may think you know detectives, but you've never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you've never seen them under an investigation like this.

The Cuckoo's Calling is a 2013 crime fiction novel by J. K. Rowling, published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

My thoughts:  This is a good book and well worth reading. I wish the story had moved a little faster.

Friday, February 21, 2014

"Zorro Gets an Outfit" By: Carter Goodrich Review

Zorro Gets an Outfit
By: Carter Goodrich

Fashion goes to the dogs in this lovable follow-up to "Say Hello to Zorro!"
Mister Bud and Zorro get along just great. They wake up together, have walk time together, and take naps together. But something is about to interrupt their schedule: Zorro has to wear a fancy outfit.
Zorro is embarrassed, mortified, aghast. Mr. Bud tries to cheer him up, but nothing works. Everyone makes fun of Zorro, and he refuses to participate in chew-on-a-stick time. Mister Bud doesn't know what to do.
But when another dog, a "very cool" dog shows up in an outfit and does amazing tricks and beats all the other dogs in a race, Zorro discovers that wearing clothes might not be so bad after all.
My Thoughts
      Carter Goodrich can do no wrong in my book. His stories about Mr. Bud and Zorro always entertain. Clever, fun, and with the most fantastic illustrations, kids and parents alike will enjoy. Zorro gets a super hero cloak in this latest installment. At first hesitant, it isn’t until he goes to the dog park and sees another dog wearing a scarf that he realizes wearing an outfit can probably be pretty cool. They run, jump and maybe make a dog a little more super than they really are. Incredibly cute, I always enjoy Zorro’s adventures and can’t wait for what comes next. Wonderful for children and adults alike, Carter Goodrich is an author to watch.
Book Details
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
# of Pages: 48
Date of PUblication: May 1, 2012
ISBN: 9781442435353
Source: Library Checkout

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches: A Flavia de Luce Novel

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches: A Flavia de Luce Novel by Alan Bradley.

Synopsis: The mystery is personal for Flavia de Luce in Bradley’s excellent sixth novel featuring the precocious 11-year-old sleuth in post-WWII England (after 2013’s Speaking from Among the Bones). The body of Harriet de Luce, her mother who disappeared in a mountaineering accident when Flavia was about a year old, has finally been recovered, and has been transported to the family home in Bishop’s Lacey for burial. As if that news wasn’t dramatic enough, Flavia is dumbfounded when she finds that former Prime Minister Winston Churchill is on hand for the coffin’s arrival at the railway station, and baffled when a stranger accosts her with a message for her father that “the Gamekeeper is in jeopardy.” Confusion turns to horror when the messenger falls, or is pushed, beneath the wheels of the funeral train. Despite the turmoil of these developments, Flavia retains her droll wit (showing off her encyclopedic knowledge of chemistry, she notes, “Metol, of course, was nothing more than a fancy name for plain old Monomethylparaminophenol Sulfate”). The solution to a murder is typically neat, and the conclusion sets up future books nicely. Publishers weekly Agent: Denise Bukowski, Bukowski Agency

My Thoughts:  This is number 6 in a series.  Although you can read some of the previous books out of order,  number 5 definately should  be read before 6.  This series of books are generally billed as "Adult", however junior high and high school students would find them entertaining. If you prefer to listen to audio Jayne Entwistle does an excellent job of narration.  I have read or listened to all of the books in the series.  Ms. Entwistle does such a good job i prefer to listen to Flavia.  The ending leaves us with what will Flavia do next?

Book Details: 336 pages, Delacorte Press, isbn: 9780385344058

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"Last Gift" By: Jessica Clare Review

Last Gift
By: Jessica Clare and Jen Frederick

Last Gift by Jen Frederick and Jessica Clare, a holiday gift.
This is a holiday short featuring Nikolai and Daisy. It's about 7500 words of holiday goodness.
My Thoughts
    A short quick story featuring characters from Last Hit, the first book in the Hitman Series by Jessica Clare and Jen Frederick. Nikolai and Daisy have officially moved in with one another and spending their first Christmas together. Nikolai had never celebrated the holiday and Daisy tries to find new ways to bring the holiday spirit to the former hitman. Sweet and short, a perfect accompany piece to anyone who read the first book in the series.

Book Details
Publisher: Self Published
# of Pages: 17
Date of Publication: December 26, 2013

Hitman Series
2. Last Breath (Publishes 2014)

Originally published at the Brunette Librarian's Blog

Monday, February 17, 2014

"Last Hit" By: Jessica Clare Review

Last Hit
By: Jessica Clare & Jen Frederick

I have been a contract killer since I was a boy. For years I savored the fear caused by my name, the trembling at the sight of my tattoos. The stars on my knees, the marks on my fingers, the dagger in my neck, all bespoke of danger. If you saw my eyes, it was the last vision you’d have. I have ever been the hunter, never the prey. With her, I am the mark and I am ready to lie down and let her capture me. Opening my small scarred heart to her brings out my enemies. I will carry out one last hit, but if they hurt her, I will bring the world down around their ears.
I’ve been sheltered from the outside world all my life. Homeschooled and farm-raised, I’m so naive that my best friend calls me Pollyanna. I like to believe the best in people. Nikolai is part of this new life, and he’s terrifying to me. Not because his eyes are cold or my friend warns me away from him, but because he’s the only man that has ever seen the real me beneath the awkwardness. With him, my heart is at risk..and also, my life.
My Thoughts
   Daisy has just started to really live life as she moves to Minneapolis. As a young child, her mother was murdered and since that fateful day, her father has lived in fear. Isolated from the outside world, Daisy has had no friends and very little to do with the outside world. Wanting more from life, she escapes her walled off home and travels to Minneapolis.
Little does Daisy know, that within her new apartment, she is being observed secretly by Nikolai. A native born Russian and inducted into the mob at a very young age, Nikolai now works secretly as a hit man. Taking down the undesirables in society, he lives in the shadows. Finding Daisy as he searches for his latest target, he is astounded by her innocence and naivete. After their initial meeting, the two are thrown together in a whirlwind of lust, questions, and mistrust.
Having loved Jessica Clare's other works, I was thrilled to randomly find a new book by her that I had somehow missed. At times this book had me flipping the pages as fast as I could, and at others I wanted to tear my hair out it was so implausible. I wanted to like Daisy but I never could. She was portrayed to be so innocent and wary of the world, but suddenly jumps into bed with this guy she never knew.
Nikolai is another one that seems disjointed. First off, I didn't for a second believe he was this world reknown hitman at the tender age of only 24. I just didn't believe it. I also didn't really get the whole watching Daisy across the street and suddenly having this predatory urge. Where I come from, that's stalking my friend, and its generally frowned upon.
A promising premise but the characters fell flat for me. Even being prepared for a wild storyline, I never could get into it or believe it realistically. I'm open for sequels though, I still think its an interesting concept, just poorly executed in this instance.

Hitman Series
2. Last Breath (Publishes 2014)

Book Details
Publisher: Pear Tree LLC
# of Pages: 270
ISBN: 978-0989247962
Date of Publication: November 30, 2013
Source: Personal Purchase

Originally published at the Brunette Librarian's Blog

Thursday, February 13, 2014

"Sharp Objects" By: Gillian Flynn Review

Sharp Objects 
By: Gillian Flynn

WICKED above her hipbone, GIRL across her heartWords are like a road map to reporter Camille Preaker’s troubled past. Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, Camille’s first assignment from the second-rate daily paper where she works brings her reluctantly back to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls.
NASTY on her kneecap, BABYDOLL on her leg Since she left town eight years ago, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed again in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille is haunted by the childhood tragedy she has spent her whole life trying to cut from her memory.
HARMFUL on her wrist, WHORE on her ankle As Camille works to uncover the truth about these violent crimes, she finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Clues keep leading to dead ends, forcing Camille to unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past to get at the story. Dogged by her own demons, Camille will have to confront what happened to her years before if she wants to survive this homecoming.
My Thoughts
      Camille has returned to her small Missouri town to cover the biggest story in Wind Gap’s history, the murder of a pre-teen girl and the disappearance of another. Returning to her town isn’t as easy as it seems, as everyone she encounters seems to have secrets. Even Camille herself wears her own painful history on her skin, scared of revealing even the smallest parts of herself to the outside world. Faced with her painful past, uncovering secrets in her own family, and finding the killer of these two young girls proves to be an almost insurmountable task. 
       Wow. That’s what I have to say. Having finished the book just moments ago, I’m still a little lightheaded by just the amount of stuff going on in this book. My mind is mush.
      As with Gone Girl, I didn’t care for any of the characters but the story absolutely had to be read. Delightfully smart, no one is safe from the secrets in this small Missouri town. I thought I had the mystery figured out early but by the end, I knew I had nothing at all figured out. Everyone, from the scummy Kansas City homicide detective to Camille’s own mom are hiding something and the finale is shocking and heart breaking in its honesty. Absolutely gutwrenching in parts, Flynn proves she is a master of storytelling in Sharp Objects.

Book Details 
Publisher: Shaye Areheart Books 
# of Pages: 272 
ISBN: 9780307341549 
Date of Publication: September 26, 2006 
Source: Library Checkout

Review originally posted at the Brunette Librarian's blog